Adam Sandler is reflecting on his decades-long career in comedy.
The “Hustle” actor and mega-producer said that he’s “calmer than I used to be” now after undergoing therapy, and is now able to recognize the talents of fellow comedians.
“Looking back on relationships, I could be an ass. I was selfish. I was competitive with other comedians and stuff,” Sandler told AARP Magazine. “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.”
While Sandler has collaborated with former “SNL” co-stars Rob Schneider, David Spade, pal Steve Buscemi, and ex-assistant Jonathan Loughran on a slew of films, Sandler admitted to feeling pressure to be the funniest in the room. To note, Schneider has been in 18 Sandler films, Buscemi in 15, Spade in 12, and Loughran in over 40 movies.
Sandler shared that bad reviews for his comedies, infamously leading him to threaten making a “Grown-Ups 4,” added an extra weight on his shoulders.
“Mostly because I invite all these amazing people I care about to make movies with me, and I wish they didn’t have to read shit about whatever we’ve made,” Sandler said of co-starring with his real-life pals. “But I don’t get too shook up. I always remember something my father said. I recall one time that something didn’t go right for me. I bombed onstage or didn’t get an audition. I was upset and probably embarrassed. And he said, ‘Adam, you can’t always be happy. People aren’t always going to like you. You’re going to fail.’ I said, ‘But I just want to be happy, man. I don’t want all that other crap.’ He said, “You won’t actually know you’re happy if you don’t feel that other stuff.’”
As for his competitive streak, Sandler continued, “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.”
Sandler noted that now he’s “better at appreciation,” including celebrating the new cast of “Saturday Night Live” as the next generation of comedy.
“I appreciate other people’s talent now rather than competing with it — in every field, in every sport, every part of showbiz,” Sandler said. “A lot of young comedians, a lot of the new cast on ‘SNL,’ they just make me laugh now.”
He added, “I’ll watch somebody and say, ‘Man, they’re great. I never would have thought of that joke or that approach.’ Or my kids will throw on some fresh song or podcast and I’ll go, ‘That’s so cool.’”
Sandler’s comments come ahead of Season 48 of “SNL,” which creator Lorne Michaels has called a “year of change” for the legendary live sketch comedy show. It premieres October 1.
Sandler has also been changing his career since collaborating with Benny and Josh Safdie for the A24 hit film “Uncut Gems” in 2019. Sandler confirmed earlier this year that he is “going to do another movie with the Safdie brothers,” but did not divulge any specific details about the upcoming project.
“They’re working hard on it,” Sandler told Entertainment Weekly. “Their work ethic is bananas. They’re always working, always writing, always thinking. I don’t know what I can tell you, but it’s gonna be very exciting. It’s different. But I don’t want them to ever say, ‘What the hell did you tell him that for?’ So I’ll just let them talk [about it].”
Sandler and the Safdie Brothers additionally collaborated on a surprise short film that premiered on Vimeo in 2020. The six-minute short, titled “Goldman v Silverman,” stars Sandler and Benny Safdie as New York City street performers who get into an altercation while trying to impress tourists in Times Square.