Adam Richard Sandler (born September 9, 1966) is an American actor, comedian, screenwriter, musician and film producer. After becoming a Saturday Night Live cast member, Sandler went on to star in several Hollywood feature films that grossed over $100 million at the box office. He is best known for his comedic roles, such as in the films Billy Madison (1995), Happy Gilmore (1996), The Waterboy (1998), Big Daddy (1999), and Mr. Deeds (2002), though he has ventured into more dramatic territory. In 1999, Sandler founded Happy Madison, a film and television production company that has produced numerous films and developed the 2007 television series Rules of Engagement.
Adam Sandler was born in Brooklyn, New York to Jewish parents, Stanley, an electrical engineer, and Judy Sandler, a nursery school teacher. When he was five, his family moved to Manchester, New Hampshire, where he attended Manchester Central High School. He found he was a natural comic, and nurtured his talent while at New York University by performing regularly in clubs and on campuses. Sandler graduated from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts in 1988.
Later in his career, he would draw on his earliest experiences for material for his comedy, music and movies. The song "Lunchlady Land" from his debut album They're All Gonna Laugh at You! is dedicated to Emalee, the lunchlady at Hayden Dining Hall at New York University.
In the mid to late 1980s, Sandler played Theo Huxtable's friend, Smitty, on The Cosby Show (1987–1988). He was a performer for the MTV game show Remote Control, on which he made appearances as the characters "Trivia Delinquent" or "Stud Boy". Early in his career, Sandler performed in comedy clubs, taking the stage at his brother's urging when he was seventeen. He was discovered by comedian Dennis Miller, who caught Sandler's act in Los Angeles. Miller 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 Chanukah Song". Sandler told Conan O'Brien on The Tonight Show that NBC fired him and Chris Farley from the show in 1995.
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 other financially successful comedies such as Bulletproof (1996), 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 earlier films did not receive critical praise, his more recent films, beginning with Punch-Drunk Love (2002), have received more positive reviews - although they lack even the meagre humour of his earlier films. Roger Ebert, in his 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 neutrality is disputed 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 (played by Don Cheadle). He starred in the film I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007) alongside Kevin James, 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 hair stylist. 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 a 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 Z. "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 in Bedtime Stories (2008), a fantasy film directed by Bringing Down the House director Adam Shankman, about a stressed hotel maintenance worker whose bedtime stories he reads to his niece and nephew begin to come true. This marked Sandler's first family film and first film under the Walt Disney banner. Keri Russell and English comedian Russell Brand co-starred.
In 2009, Sandler starred in Judd Apatow's third directorial feature Funny People. He played a very successful stand up comedian who finds out he has a terminal illness and he takes a young inexperienced comic, played by 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 (playing Sandler's wife), Maria Bello (playing James' wife), and fellow SNL alumna Maya Rudolph (playing 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 in the 2011 film Just Go with It, with Jennifer Aniston, a romantic comedy written by Allan Loeb and Tim Dowling and directed by Dennis Dugan. He played 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. Sandler also provided the voice of a capuchin monkey in Kevin James' Zookeeper, released on July 8, 2011. He filmed That's My Boy with Andy Samberg, which tells the story of a man, played by Sandler, who fathered a son, played by Samberg, with his teacher in high school. Then years later, visits his son on the eve of his wedding where he clashes with the bride (played by Leighton Meester).
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. Happy Madison has produced all of Sandler's subsequent films to date with the exceptions 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. Sandler and Happy Madison produced SNL contemporary Rob 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.
Happy Madison produced David Spade's Joe Dirt, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, and The Benchwarmers, which also featured Rob 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 cameoed as a special audience member in an episode of The Showbiz Show with David Spade. SNL contemporary Kevin Nealon has appeared in ten 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 and the Dana Carvey vehicle, The Master of Disguise.
Happy Madison also produced Paul Blart: Mall Cop, the first starring vehicle for Kevin James. James had costarred 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. Happy Madison 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 and will headline another film for Happy Madison in the near future.
Others who frequently appear in Sandler films include Steve Buscemi, Chris Rock, John Turturro, Jon Lovitz, Clint Howard, Norm Macdonald, Nick Swardson, and longtime Sandler pals Allen Covert, Peter Dante, and Jonathan Loughran. In particular Allen Covert plays unique and eccentric characters in Sandler's films. Most notably as a limo driver in The Wedding Singer, Ten Second Tom in 50 First Dates, and Nicky's roommate in Little Nicky. Covert starred in his first leading role in Grandma's Boy, also produced by Happy Madison productions.
In June 2007, it was announced that Happy Madison had made a preemptive acquisition for Mitch Albom's screenwriting debut.
In June 2008, it was announced that Sandler will be executive producer for a horror thriller titled The Shortcut under a nascent genre label for Happy Madison called "Scary Madison".
In October 2009, it was announced that Sandler and Happy Madison will produce the Richard Pryor biopic Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said? for Sony, the company's first major dramatic production. The film was written by Bill Condon, who is set to direct, and Pryor will be played by Marlon Wayans, who is replacing Eddie Murphy.
On June 22, 2003, Sandler married actress Jacqueline Samantha Titone, and they are the parents of two daughters, Sadie Madison Sandler (born 2006) and Sunny Madeline Sandler (born 2008). Sandler lives with his family in Los Angeles, but also owns homes in New York City and Florida.
Political and charitable donations
In 2007, Sandler made a $1 million donation to the Boys and Girls Club in his hometown, Manchester, New Hampshire. He donated $2,100 to Republican Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign the same year.