Scenes From Adam Sandler Movies That Actors Were Uncomfortable Filming – Looper
Take him or leave him, Adam Sandler is one of the most prolific actors of our generation. With over 80 acting credits, 34 of them as leading roles, the jokester is responsible for earning billions of dollars at the box office. Under his company, Happy Madison Productions, some of Sandler’s movies are known as critical flops. Yet somehow, Sandler remains one of the most profitable stars in the comedy genre. His production does not stop at slapstick laugh-fests either, as the actor has established himself as a respectable lead in romance and drama features, including “Punch-Drunk Love,” “Uncut Gems,” and most recently, “Hustle.”
For an actor who has generally been viewed as a goofball for most of his career, Sandler has worked with some impressive A-list performers. Academy Award-winning icons such as Kathy Bates, Al Pacino, and Christopher Walken have all loaned their talents to some of Sandler’s most ridiculous comedy features. Further, on-screen Sandler has swooned some of Hollywood’s most lovable leading ladies, including Drew Barrymore, Winona Ryder, and Jennifer Aniston.
While impressive, Happy Madison Productions has pushed the boundaries of what is deemed culturally appropriate, dancing on a fine line between funny and terribly offensive. Subsequently, the over-the-top nature of Sandler flicks has put many of his co-stars in precarious situations. Here, we will explore 12 times the line was crossed in his movies, making the cast, and sometimes crew, feel highly uncomfortable.
It is no illusion that Adam Sandler has tamed himself over his decades of performing. Whether age has slowed him down or a younger Sandler had more to prove, his early comedic efforts worked much harder for the laughs — sometimes too hard. “Billy Madison” was Sandler’s first feature that he wrote and played the undisputed lead. The beloved comedy features the titular character re-entering school with the mission of passing every grade, starting with first grade.
One of the film’s most endearing qualities is how the actor behaves more childishly than his adolescent co-stars. Unfortunately, Sandler’s immaturity may have backfired on set. While appearing on “Conan,” the star actor confessed that he might have been a tad aggressive in a particular “Billy Madison” scene. While filming a scene of him playing dodgeball with first graders, Sandler let loose, nailing the small children with the ball at full force. The scene is hilarious to watch for audiences, but it’s not so funny when you think about the child actors who took Sandler’s shots. Unfortunately, the 6-year-olds were unable to read the script and prepare for the aggressive sequence. The scene resulted in tears and some understandably upset parents.
“Billy Madison” was more than just Adam Sandler’s first movie script. Having more control during the film’s development meant the actor could begin a long-standing tradition of including his friends in his movies. Even the screenplay was written alongside Sandler’s long-time writing partner, Tim Herlihy. While on-screen, Sandler included good pal Steve Buscemi, who he had recently filmed “Airheads” alongside. Buscemi would end up being part of an assortment of future Happy Madison projects.
Additionally, Sandler did not forget his “Saturday Night Live” co-stars for his first major motion picture, onboarding both Chris Farley and Norm Macdonald, two of his close friends. At the time, Farley had some film experience from appearing in both “Wayne’s World” movies. For Macdonald, “Billy Madison” was his film debut, playing the role of the free-loading best friend of the star. Whether the nerves of his inaugural outing got to him or Macdonald was taking method acting to an extreme level, the actor admitted on “Conan” that he had not only been drinking but, at one point, had fallen asleep while the cameras were rolling. Unfortunately, this made for an awkward moment for Sandler, who was unsure if it was a part of Macdonald’s performing techniques.
Adam Sandler’s follow-up to “Billy Madison” featured a far-out concept of having a failed hockey player take on professional golf. Unfortunately for the comedian, making fun of a sport that prides itself on etiquette and tradition is a dangerous game. To avoid offending professional golfers and its community of enthusiasts, Sandler and writing partner Tim Herlihy did their homework and enlisted former PGA-pro Mark Lye as a script consultant. And eventually, after multiple swings, the trio believed they had a screenplay that would avoid offending too many golf advocates. However, not everyone enjoyed the over-the-top display of golf in “Happy Gilmore.”
To add credibility to the golfing feature, Sandler and company brought in a couple of recognizable faces for PGA fans to latch onto. Notably, one of the greatest players in golf history, Lee Trevino, made a pair of cameos in the film – although he regretted every second. Speaking about his appearance years later, Trevino said, “If they were going to use all those foul words in there, I never would have done it” (via Yahoo). He also admitted he had not read through the script before acting in the scene. Thankfully, the film has become a cult sensation, especially among golf fans and professionals. Some pros have even imitated Happy’s signature long drive from the film.
Over time, Adam Sandler became more adept at co-starring with children following his former days of hurling dodgeballs at first graders. By 1999, Sandler, now in his 30s, was transitioning his immature on-screen characters into semi-responsible parental figures. “Big Daddy” brought the goofy wedding singer into a new light as an adoptive father to a 5-year-old boy – Julian “Frankenstein” McGrath. Not only did Sandler turn a new leaf by maturing his characters, but he also became more dependable to his co-stars off-screen.
Twin actors Dylan and Cole Sprouse split duties for the role of little Frankenstein, as they did with many roles before landing their own Disney Chanel series, “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.” In a Variety interview, Cole Sprouse recalled a time when, while in the midst of production, a fire alarm went off in the New York hotel the cast was staying in. Sandler helped to quell Sprouse’s worries about the alarm by personally carrying him on his shoulders down 45 flights of stairs. Despite the level of comfort on set, Sandler still had some lessons to discover about watching his language around children, as Sprouse admitted he learned every profanity from being on the set.
Things were not easy for beloved actress Winona Ryder before, during, or after filming “Mr. Deeds” with Adam Sandler. Once considered one of the greatest young actresses for her performances in “Beetlejuice,” “Heathers,” and “Edward Scissorhands,” Ryder struggled with anxiety and depression, which may have contributed to her arrest for shoplifting in 2001. As she faced the repercussions for those charges, Ryder simultaneously fulfilled her “Mr. Deeds” role as Babe Bennett, a journalist who cons a newfound billionaire. However, her streak of bad luck continued, even on set for the Happy Madison film.
Performing her own stunt of riding a bicycle around the streets of New York City, Ryder began to show off, resulting in her taking a nasty fall. As she explained the events to W Magazine, the trained actress did her best to hide her pain through the next day of filming. Eventually, the discomfort became too agonizing, and Ryder was forced to seek treatment. She discovered she had broken her arm in three places. The aftermath of the challenging year caused Ryder to take a hiatus from cinema, limiting her to minor roles and cameo appearances for several years.
If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.
It is not just Adam Sandler’s characters that are quirky and off-kilter. Sandler has also made people feel uncomfortable in person, though the comedian admits that he has refined his nature over the years. In an interview with AARP, Sandler said he’s calmed down a lot since he was younger. “I’m calmer than I used to be. I used to go nuts. I had a quick temper, quick reactions. I made a lot of dumb mistakes and said a lot of stupid things,” he said. But now, he said he doesn’t “spend two hours making everyone around me feel weirdness for no reason.” Unfortunately for him, there is one thing that continues to make things awkward for the actor — romantic scenes.
Despite playing the leading man in a slew of romantic comedies with some of Hollywood’s most outstanding female performers, Sandler cannot handle on-screen make-out sessions with poise. Although co-star Jennifer Aniston proclaimed Sandler as a “good kisser,” he countered by saying, “She would try to protect me. I’m never excited for romantic scenes” (via W Magazine). What’s worse for Sandler is how supportive his wife, Jackie Sandler, is about him locking lips with famous actresses. He said, “She’s always saying, ‘Come on, make sure you kiss the best way you can.'” Even one of Sandler’s regular co-stars, Drew Barrymore, said she’s noticed how his wife offers behind-the-scenes coaching tips to help him properly swoon his leading lady.
Out of all Adam Sandler’s female co-stars, he is closest with Drew Barrymore. The pair have played romantic counterparts in three separate movies — “The Wedding Singer,” “50 First Dates,” and “Blended.” The on-screen couple suggested they may have more in store for audiences when they received the MTV Award for the greatest of all time dynamic duo. Surprisingly, Barrymore knew she was meant to collaborate with the comedian, even when she didn’t know if anyone would take their pairing seriously. In a Vanity Fair video, the actress spoke about how she stalked Sandler, determined to convince him to make a film together.
Barrymore’s hunch about collaborating with the silly comedian paid off as “The Wedding Singer” became one of the most beloved features of both performers’ careers. However, despite developing a bond with Sandler and working closely with him over three movies, the actress still has some reservations about filming romantic scenes together. “She wouldn’t want it every day,” Sandler told E! News, “I have to give her a pass every four or five years.” Over the years, the romantic scenes have not gotten any easier for the veteran actress. Thankfully, Sandler is there to remind her, “They paid you, buddy, get in here!”
Although Adam Sandler has created a habit of hiring his friends for roles in his films, he has also brought in a variety of other performers to appear in his movies. As a relatively big-name actor himself, Sandler has collaborated with a plethora of talented actors and actresses. Arguably, no movie in the Sandler filmography highlights the assortment of celebrities the comedian can work with more than the 2005 remake of “The Longest Yard.” The cast includes comedians such as Chris Rock and Tracy Morgan, veteran actors like Burt Reynolds, Terry Crews, and William Fichtner, alongside professional athletes like Bob Sapp and Bill Romanowski. And to add to the smorgasbord of talent, the feature throws in musician Nelly, for good measure.
The most unorthodox inclusion in the film was the multiple untrained actors borrowed from the WWE professional wrestling organization. Truthfully, the early 2000s was when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was catapulting himself into Hollywood stardom, and many wrestlers were hoping to follow his path. Those hanging up the spandex to join Sandler’s football feature included Bill Goldberg, Kevin Nash, and the WWE’s biggest star of the time, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. “It was hotter than blazes,” admitted Austin on an episode of “The Pat McAfee Show.” “You know when you try to run through those tires, and you’re holding the football?” Austin added, “I’m thinking, ‘Are you kidding me? They don’t have a stunt double for ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin?'”
Nothing in Hollywood is more effective at making high-paid actors suffer than putting them inside a hot, cumbersome prosthetic. Sometimes, the movie industry goes to extreme lengths to create eye-catching characters, and there are plenty of examples of costumes and stage makeup that’s gone wrong. Famously, actor Buddy Ebsen nearly died inhaling aluminum dust as the Tin Man on “The Wizard of Oz” before being replaced. Meanwhile, performers like Jim Carrey, John Rhys-Davies, and Jennifer Lawrence have each faced serious consequences for wearing film prosthetics. Still, one of the Hollywood’s most often used and universally despised costumes is the fat suit.
Although considered problematic, fat suits are used to turn average-sized actors into obese characters. Common examples of these costumes used on-screen include Eddie Murphy in “The Nutty Professor,” Mike Myers in “Austin Powers in Goldmember,” and Martin Lawrence in “Big Mama’s House.” And, unfortunately for Adam Sandler, he can be included on that list — once and never again. The comedian slipped on the notoriously uncomfortable outfit for 2006’s “Click.” Hilariously, in a behind-the-scenes commentary, Sandler mocks other actors for complaining about the prosthetic. However, he quickly learned why the fat suit had garnered such a negative reputation among other actors.
“Uncut Gems” is resoundingly one of Adam Sandler’s most celebrated movies. Collaborating with the Safdie brothers resulted in the comedian receiving his first substantial consideration for an Oscar. Although the coveted award failed to materialize for Sandler, the Netflix crime thriller stands as one of the actor’s most critically acclaimed performances to date. It’s a good thing for the aging jokester that the reception was so positive because Sandler invested much more than he intended into the story about a gambling addict.
Previously notorious for avoiding interviews, Sandler had plenty to say about his time playing as the male lead, Howard Ratner. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the actor revealed how he had to keep his family at a distance, saying, “That was a conscious choice that we made as a family: ‘let’s stay away from Howard.'” Further, the sibling directors recalled how much pain and punishment Sandler faced during filming. “It started to get a little scary one or two times,” said Josh Safdie, “There was one take when Sandler was getting choked out, and he was trying to tap out, but the actor thought that he was just being Howard, so he choked harder, and Adam couldn’t breathe.”
Sadly, gone are the days of a young Adam Sandler running up and down a movie set, performing ridiculous antics, and generally being a goofball. The actor has refined his comedy over the years and, for the most part, has left the slapstick far behind him. Sure, maturity likely played a significant role in slowing Sandler down. But even more effective at pulling the wind out of anyone’s overly-exuberant sails is age — and the “SNL” alum is getting up there.
“Hustle” is Sandler’s latest full-length feature. Arguably, it took Sandler long enough to do a basketball-centered story, considering he has a reputation for impressing on the courts. Unfortunately, the comedian’s love for the game and old age caught up with him when trying to keep up with his NBA-level co-stars on the set of “Hustle.” “I played with everybody, all the guys, and it’s humiliating,” Sandler said in an ET interview. “That’s before I popped my groin,” he added. The actor was forced to finish the film in excruciating pain from the pulled muscle, and even a year later, he was still complaining about the soreness.
Somehow, despite playing questionable characters in even more questionable situations, Adam Sandler has narrowly avoided upsetting too many people throughout his long career. He’s made movies where he’s both the male and female lead, and he’s written about homosexuality as a straight man. But somehow, Sandler, for the most part, manages to approach the line of being offensive without crossing. That is until making the 2015 film, “The Ridiculous 6.”
According to just about everybody, “The Ridiculous 6” is not a movie worth the time it takes out of your life to watch. To save the admission, here is a one-line synopsis: a Western comedy about six long-lost half-brothers searching for their father. Regardless of its impressive cast, the feature gets exceptionally offensive in its representation of American Indigenous people. The script alone, which called for character names such as “Beaver’s Breath” and “No Bra,” should have been a red flag for potential performers. However, as explained by CNN, things got so distasteful that multiple actors and actresses walked off the set. One Navajo actress, Allison Young, confronted producers about her “uneasy” and “conflicted” feelings, only to be told, “If you guys are so sensitive, you should just leave.” Unfortunately, Sandler pushed his luck too far with the satire that dove way too deep into dated stereotypes.