Adam Richard Sandler (born September 9, 1966) is an American actor, comedian, screenwriter, entrepreneur, film producer, and musician. After becoming a Saturday Night Live cast member, Sandler went on to star in many Hollywood feature films that combined have grossed over $2 billion at the box office. He is best known for his comedic roles, such as in the films Billy Madison (1995), the sports comedies Happy Gilmore (1996) and The Waterboy (1998), the romantic comedy The Wedding Singer (1998), Big Daddy (1999), and Mr. Deeds (2002), though he has ventured into more dramatic territory with his roles in Punch-Drunk Love (2002), Spanglish (2004), Reign Over Me (2007), and Funny People (2009). In 1999, Sandler founded Happy Madison Productions, a film and television production company that has produced numerous films and developed the 2007 television sitcom series Rules of Engagement.
Early in his career, Sandler played Theo Huxtable’s friend, Smitty in The Cosby Show and a stud boy or Trivia Delinquent in the MTV game show Remote Control. After his film debut Going Overboard in 1989, Sandler performed in comedy clubs, taking the stage at his brother’s urging when he was 17. He was discovered by comedian Dennis Miller, who caught Sandler’s act in Los Angeles and recommended him to Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels. Sandler was hired as a writer for SNL in 1990 and became a featured player the following year, making a name for himself by performing amusing original songs on the show, including “The Thanksgiving Song” and “The Chanukah Song”. Sandler told Conan O’Brien on The Tonight Show that NBC fired him and Chris Farley from the show in 1995.
In 1993, Adam Sandler co-starred in “Coneheads” with Chris Farley, David Spade, Dan Aykroyd, Phil Hartman, and Jane Curtin. In 1994, he co-starred in Airheads with Brendan Fraser and Steve Buscemi. He starred in Billy Madison (1995) as a grown, though uneducated, man repeating grades 1-12 to earn back his father’s respect, along with the right to inherit his father’s multi-million-dollar hotel empire. In At the Movies, Siskel and Ebert gave the film a very bad review, and said of Sandler “…Not an attractive screen presence, he might have a career as a villain or a fall guy or the butt of a joke, but as the protagonist his problem is he creates the fingernails on the blackboard” with Siskel adding “…you don’t have a good motivation for the character’s behavior”. He followed this film with Bulletproof (1996), and the financially successful comedies Happy Gilmore (1996) and The Wedding Singer (1998). He was initially cast in the bachelor party-themed comedy/thriller Very Bad Things (1998), but had to back out due to his involvement in The Waterboy (1998), one of his first hits.
Although his earliest films did not receive critical praise, he started to receive more positive reviews, beginning with Punch-Drunk Love in 2002. Roger Ebert’s review of Punch-Drunk Love concluded that Sandler had been wasted in earlier films with poorly written scripts and characters with no development. Sandler has moved outside the genre of slapstick comedy to take on more serious parts such as the aforementioned Punch-Drunk Love (for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe), Spanglish (2004) and Reign Over Me (2007). He played a loving father figure in Big Daddy (1999). During filming, he met Jacqueline Samantha Titone–his future wife and mother of his two daughters–who was cast as the waitress from The Blarney Stone Bar.
At one point, Sandler was considered for the part that went to Jamie Foxx in Collateral (2004). He also was one of the finalists along with Jim Carrey and Johnny Depp for the role of Willy Wonka in Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005). He returned to more dramatic fare with Mike Binder’s Reign Over Me (2007), a drama about a man who loses his entire family in 9/11 and rekindles a friendship with his old college roommate (Don Cheadle). He starred with Kevin James in the film I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007), as a New York City fireman pretending to be gay to keep up an insurance scam so that his best friend’s children can have benefits. Sandler headlined You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (2008), a comedy about a Mossad agent who fakes his own death and moves to the United States to become a hairstylist. The film was written by Sandler, The 40-Year-Old Virgin writer-director Judd Apatow (who was an old roommate of Sandler’s when both were starting out), and Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog creator Robert Smigel, and was directed by Happy Gilmore director Dennis Dugan.
“Like Will Ferrell, Sandler has layers of tenderness under layers of irony under layers of tenderness–plus floating anger like Jupiter’s great red spot,” wrote David Edelstein of New York magazine in a review of You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. “Some performers become stars because we can read them instantly, others–like Sandler–because we never tire of trying to get a fix on them.”
Sandler starred along with Keri Russell and English comedian Russell Brand in Adam Shankman’s fantasy film Bedtime Stories (2008), as a stressed hotel maintenance worker whose bedtime stories he reads to his niece and nephew begin to come true. It marked as Sandler’s first family film and first film under the Walt Disney banner. Get to know more about Alice Cooper.
In 2009, Sandler starred in Judd Apatow’s third directorial feature Funny People as a very successful stand-up comedian who finds out he has a terminal illness and he takes a young inexperienced comic (Seth Rogen) under his wing. Filming began in October 2008 and finished in January 2009. The film was released on July 31, 2009. At one point, Sandler was in talks to star in Quentin Tarantino’s World War II film Inglourious Basterds, which he confirmed, but he did not appear in it due to a scheduling conflict with Funny People. Following the release of Funny People, it, along with Punch-Drunk Love were cited in the June 2010 announcement that Sandler was one of 135 people (including 20 actors) invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Sandler appeared in Grown Ups, teaming up with Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, and David Spade (all of whom have worked with Sandler before) for a film about five best friends from high school who reunite 30 years later on the July 4 weekend. Other costars include Salma Hayek (as Sandler’s wife), Maria Bello (as James’ wife), and fellow SNL alumna Maya Rudolph (as Rock’s wife), Colin Quinn, Tim Meadows, and Norm Macdonald. Sandler and Dickie Roberts scribe Fred Wolf wrote the script and Dennis Dugan directed the film.
Sandler starred with Jennifer Aniston in the 2011 romantic comedy film Just Go with It, as a plastic surgeon who asks his office manager, played by Aniston, to pose as his wife, in order to prove his honesty to his much younger girlfriend, played by Brooklyn Decker. It was written by Allan Loeb and Tim Dowling and directed by Dennis Dugan. Sandler also voiced a capuchin monkey in Kevin James’ Zookeeper, released on July 8, 2011. In 2012, he starred in That’s My Boy, as a man who fathered a son (Andy Samberg) with his teacher in high school. Thirty years later, he visits his son on the eve of his wedding and clashes with the bride (Leighton Meester).
Sandler starred with Drew Barrymore in the Warner Bros. romantic comedy Blended, which was filmed in South Africa, and was released on May 23, 2014.
In 2013, he guest starred in the Disney Channel Original Series Jessie as himself. He and Cameron Boyce previously worked together in Grown Ups and Grown Ups 2. The episode is titled “Punched Dumped Love”, referring to, Punch-Drunk Love.
Sandler co-starred in the drama film Men, Women & Children (2014), directed by Jason Reitman.
Happy Madison Productions
Sandler formed his film production company, Happy Madison Productions, in 1999, first producing fellow SNL alumnus Rob Schneider’s film Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. The company has produced all of Sandler’s subsequent films to date, except Punch-Drunk Love and Spanglish. Reign Over Me and Funny People were produced by Happy Madison but under the subsidiary label “Madison 23”.
Sandler is known for consistently working with a core group of friends and associates through Happy Madison, frequently casting fellow SNL performers in various roles in his films. He and his company produced SNL contemporary Schneider’s vehicles Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo (1999), The Animal (2001), The Hot Chick (2002), and Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo (2005), and The Benchwarmers (2006), with Sandler making cameo appearances in the middle three. Meanwhile, Schneider has appeared in cameo roles in Sandler films The Waterboy, Little Nicky, Mr. Deeds, Click, The Longest Yard, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, and Bedtime Stories. Schneider had larger roles in Sandler films Big Daddy, 50 First Dates, Eight Crazy Nights, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, and Grown Ups.
The company produced David Spade’s Joe Dirt, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, and The Benchwarmers, which also featured Schneider. Spade additionally made a cameo appearance in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and had a prominent supporting role in Grown Ups. Sandler played a special cameo audience member in an episode of The Showbiz Show with David Spade. SNL contemporary Kevin Nealon has appeared in eleven Happy Madison productions or Sandler films, including Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer, Little Nicky, Joe Dirt, Eight Crazy Nights, Anger Management, Grandma’s Boy, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, Just Go with It, Blended, and the Dana Carvey vehicle, The Master of Disguise.
His company also produced Paul Blart: Mall Cop, the first starring vehicle for Kevin James, who had co-starred with Sandler in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and Grown Ups, and made a cameo appearance in You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. The company also produced James’ second starring vehicle Zookeeper.
He appeared as the featured guest on the final episode of John McEnroe’s eponymous CNBC talk show, airing in late 2004. McEnroe appeared as himself in three of Sandler’s films ( Mr. Deeds, Anger Management, and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan).
Anna Faris, who appeared in The Hot Chick, became the first female actor to headline a production for Happy Madison with The House Bunny.
Another person who Sandler has co-starred with many times is Drew Barrymore: The Wedding Singer (1998), 50 First Dates (2004), and Blended (2014).
Others who frequently appear in Sandler films include Steve Buscemi, Chris Rock, John Turturro, Jon Lovitz, Clint Howard, Norm Macdonald, Nick Swardson, and longtime friends Allen Covert, Peter Dante, and Jonathan Loughran. Covert starred in his first leading role in Grandma’s Boy, also produced by Happy Madison productions.
The company is located on the Sony/Columbia Pictures lot in Culver City, California.