In the Netflix movie “Hustle,” Adam Sandler plays Stanley Sugerman, a big-league basketball scout who travels the earth in search of the next great professional baseball player. He finds one in Spain, but getting him into the NBA proves to be a steep climb.
“It seems like you’re drawn to these characters who are out of luck, you could say losers,” correspondent Tracy Smith said. “What do you think it is?”
“Oh man, I always liked them growing up,” Sandler said. “I liked shooting for somebody who needed something. I relate to all types of people, but I like playing these guys who are struggling. I like that.”
Why? “I guess I admire someone who doesn’t give up.”
Many “Hustle” players, including the star, Juancho Hernangomez, are actual NBA players, so everything feels intense and real. In other words, it’s not your dad’s Adam Sandler movie. In more than 30 feature films (including “The Waterboy”, “Happy Gilmore”, “Billy Madison” and “Big Daddy”) he has built a career as a comedic man-child.
“Hustle” received critical acclaim. “You’re already nominated for a bunch of awards,” Smith said. “There’s Oscar buzz. Are you trying to turn a deaf ear?”
“I don’t expect that,” Sandler replied. “I don’t sit back and watch my performance and say, ‘I’m captivating, man. How the hell did I do that? I’m proud of it. And if any of that stuff happens, that would be great. If that doesn’t happen, it’s still been pretty darn good.
To see a trailer for the movie “Hustle”, click on the video player below:
The fun stuff may come naturally, but Sandler’s background is a bit more serious. He studied at Lee Strasburg Studios at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. “I think I got there when I was 17,” he said. “I started doing stand-up. So I was doing school, serious daytime stuff.” And at night he worked in comedy clubs in New York.
In 1990, at age 24, he got hired at “Saturday Night Live”, and in 1994 he stood out with tracks like “Hanukkah Song“:
Put on your yarmulke
Here comes Hanukkah
To celebrate Hanukkah
Hanukkah is the “festival of lights”
Instead of a day of presents, we have eight crazy nights
He was particularly close to his teammate Chris Farley, on and off screen. Smith asked, “Were you two related from the time you met?”
“Yeah, yeah. Sure. Everyone was with Farley. Everyone who knew him felt tremendous love and connection with him. Me and Farley, Spade and Rock, we shared an office together. So we were almost all together. the time, and I loved it.”
Farley died in 1997, but Sandler pays tribute to his friend at each of his shows.
The first time I saw him
He was sweeter than shit
Plaid jacket and belt too tight
It wasn’t even a little
Then he cartwheeled around the room
And I danced in slow motion with the maid
Once upon a one man party
You know who I’m talking about:
I’m talking about my friend Chris Farley
Sandler said, “I remember the first night we played it. I finished the first verse, then I said, ‘Talk about my friend Chris Farley,’ and the place erupted! And you don’t expect that.
Music has long been a big part of Sandler’s act, on stage or screen. In 1998’s “The Wedding Singer”, the song “Grow Old With You” was directed at Drew Barrymore. But the real love of his life is another actor, the one who co-starred with Adam as the “Great Looking Flight Attendant” in his 2019 movie “Murder Mystery.” Jackie and Adam Sandler married in 2003, and he closes his stage show with a song that is now his:
I met you 20 years ago
And we talked all night
You drank me under the table
Yeah, it was love at first sight
I knew right then and there
I would grow old with you
Smith asked, “When you first played that for Jackie, how was it?”
“Man. I think I played it for her at a show, and she loved it. And it was sweet, real. And I love it, and I want her to know it, everywhere I go.”
“In your life, how important is it to have that support, Jackie’s support?”
“Oh, when she’s not supporting me, if something’s wrong? I’m leaving.”
And at 56, Sandler is definitely on these days, on tour and, it seems, more popular than ever.
In fact, it has been compared to a fine wine, getting better with each passing year. And then, why not make the cover of AARP magazine? “They asked me to be on the cover, and, what, am I going to say ‘No’ to those guys? They were nice people.”
Smith asked, “How does that feel?”
“It’s good that my mother’s friends can talk to me about something!” he’s laughing.
“So where are you now?” Are you happy ?
“Solid, solid,” Sandler said. “It’s at this minute, I’m solid. I can’t say the whole day is going to be like this. At 9:00 this morning, I remember being a little crazy, a little off. Then came 10 hours, I was doing makeup for you and it’s driving me crazy, anyone touching my face.
“Then I saw Bagel, the dog, it made me feel good. I was nervous about her biting another dog or a kid or something, so I tensed for a second. But when I sat with you, everything is going well – ‘because people are talking about me! That’s very good!’
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Story produced by John D’Amelio. Publisher: Lauren Barnello.