Well into his sixth decade, Adam Sandler is a man of many titles – slapstick comedian, SNL alum, serious actor, movie producer, doting parent, ardent hoopster, perpetual kid and loyal pal. AARP The Magazine (ATM) caught up with Sandler (whose new project You Are SO Not Invited to my Bat Mitzvah! just finished filming this August) to discuss his expansive career and reasons behind his recent and successful pivot into the dramatic films.
Sandler explains the importance of choosing roles that explore what it means to grow older, and grapple, with one’s place in the universe, especially as he himself enters the age group he once made the target of jokes. Looking back on his time at SNL, Sandler reflects on the maturity he’s gained since his 20s as well as how it feels having his daughters reach a similar age when he first began. Sandler also touches on his bucket list items still to be ticked off, and the legacy he hopes to leave behind.
The following are excerpts from ATM‘s October/November 2022 cover story featuring Adam Sandler. The cover story can be read online now at aarp.org/magazine/.
On getting to the age that young Adam Sandler loved to poke fun at:
“I like my age, and it’s fun to play my age. It’s freeing. I don’t have to be true to anything other than what I look like and what I think and what I do in life. I’m nonstop commitment to my projects, though I don’t have the same discipline to keep my body in shape. There hasn’t been one movie where I’ve stayed the same weight throughout a three-month shoot. I used to worry about it. Now I’m okay.”
On Drama vs. Comedy:
“I like giving myself over to a new challenge. Sometimes I feel like I’m tapped out with new thoughts, and then all of a sudden, something new comes up and I go, ‘Okay, how can I make this happen?’ It was cool as hell pushing myself in new ways like I did on Uncut Gems. Running around the Diamond District in New York, the intensity of that amazing character, or in Hustle, being around the greatest NBA players, and not worrying about laughs as much as what each character is going through and pulling for. But I do love comedy more than anything.”
On growing up since SNL:
“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. Looking back on relationships, I could be an ass. I was selfish. I was competitive with other comedians and stuff. My father would say, “That guy’s funny,” and I would say, “Hey, I’m funny, blah, blah,” and he’d be, like, “Why can’t you both be funny?” Because I was hungry, I didn’t always see clearly then.”
“I’m also better at appreciation. I appreciate other people’s talent now rather than competing with it—in every field, in every sport, every part of showbiz. A lot of young comedians, a lot of the new cast on SNL, they just make me laugh now.”
On raising his daughters:
“My biggest challenge is trying not to steer them in certain directions to believe the things I believe and like the things I like. There are so many bands I love, starting with the Beatles but also Zeppelin, the Who, the Kinks. I’ll try to sneak something on the radio, like Van Halen, and when they’re singing along in the car go, “You like this?” Then I’ll play a deeper track and another one, when I probably should have quit at that first one. My wife—and the shrink—say I should just let stuff happen instead of getting so involved. Let them come up with those equations themselves.”
On his legacy:
“I want people to continue to enjoy what I’m doing. I hope they’ve had a good time with my movies, with what we’ve given them and, whether you’ve liked me or not, appreciate that I’ve tried my best.
“I’m just amazed people have trusted me as long as they have in this business and given me shot after shot. Because it would suck to do something else.”
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