James Caan is always pleased when he gets his hands on solid, character-driven script.

He found just that with Henry’s Crime, where he plays a prison patriarch that he immediately connected to. Caan liked the character’s complex personality and putting him in set of real world circumstances “which we don’t see anymore. When this came about I was looking, you wouldn’t believe the crap scripts I get. There aren’t enough with good old-fashioned storytelling.”

“And this thing was never like Hamlet, it wasn’t meant to cure cancer, it was just an old-fashioned little bit of fun. … What was important was that it has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and there’s character. And if the audience leaves with a smile on their faces, then they enjoyed it, then we’ve done our jobs. There’s no big message in there, it’s just an old fashioned kind of movie, at least that’s what I think.”

Caan accepted the part from director Malcolm Venville on condition that he got to tweak him to his liking.

“I changed that whole thing. When I first came in he was written for more like a Woody Allan kind of guy, talking philosophy and nonsense. I thought if he was a con guy he would be more fun, the truth of the matter is stuff becomes a big job. If you lie to people, you have to remember who you lied to.”

In Henry’s Crime Caan stars opposite Keanu Reeves, who plays a jailhouse innocent serving time for a crime he didn’t commit. Despite having different personalities, they got along well.

“We’re just day and night, I’m pretty much of an extrovert, not that one is good and one is bad, and he’s very quiet and introverted, so that kind of worked, even when I made him laugh, he tried not to.”