“And I just remember talking about Sean Connery and his performance…and his chest hair. And, boy, I wish I could do that.” –Adam Sandler, 2012 Academy Awards Broadcast movie montage.
Adam Sandler may never be 007 or even a Bond villain. But Sandler has created a unique career ranging from his days on Saturday Night Live to a series of silly but fun movies—and even a few more serious performances along the journey.
Sandler was a fixture of Saturday Night Live’s early ‘90s cast as a featured player for five seasons beginning in 1991 as part of a cast that included Chris Farley and (now Senator) Al Franken. Among Sandler’s most legendary bits on SNL were “The Chanukah Song,” so popular it’s been updated numerous times to keep up with the times, Canteen Boy, including a controversial bit with Alec Baldwin as Scoutmaster, Opera Boy, and many others. Sandler’s three Emmy nominations are for being part of the SNL writing staff.
Leaving the venerable sketch show in 1995, Sandler moved on to feature films, with his best known movies comedies, including starring roles in Billy Madison (1995), Happy Gilmore (1996), The Waterboy (1998), and Big Daddy (1999). For his 1998 movie The Wedding Singer, he also wrote and performed several songs. Although he mostly stayed within his wheelhouse of raunchy slapstick, goofy comedy, Sandler did venture outside his presumed comfort zone from time to time and into more serious drama, surprising fans and critics with Punch-Drunk Love in 2002. A romantic comedy directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and co-starring Emily Watson and Philip Seymour Hoffman, Punch-Drunk Love features Sandler playing a lonely man, whose family seems only out to thwart his slim chance at love. It’s a great role, playing to the actor’s darker side, and prompting Roger Ebert to comment, “Sandler, liberated from the constraints of formula, reveals unexpected depths as an actor. Watching this film, you can imagine him in Dennis Hopper roles. He has darkness, obsession and power.” His role, earning Sandler a well-deserved Golden Globe nomination for his performance, is a far cry from SNL’s “Opera Boy.”