Interview: Adam Sandler

Adam Sandler rarely speaks with the press. Most of his movies hardly need the coverage as he’s one of the few stars whose name all but guarantees a strong opening weekend. Projects like Punch Drunk Love and Spanglish obviously need a harder push, but Click seems like a sure thing. Sandler plays a working stiff who gets a remote control to help him skip the bad parts of life and pause when he needs a break.

Click looks like another sure thing for Sandler, but fans may be surprised at the philosophical depth the movie has. By the end, our hero realizes he’s missed the best parts of his life by fast forwarding too much, and his whole family suffers for it.

Though capable of portraying both sides of the concept, Sandler definitely enjoyed the funny parts more. “[I’m] much more comfortable showing up that day knowing we got a funny scene coming,” he says. “Like that day where I had to be upset over my father in the movie, I don’t like sitting in my trailer being depressed all day and looking at pictures. I don’t like that. I do it. I’m glad when it’s over. It feels like a relief, and if I think I did the best I could do, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment. But I’d rather go to work and fart in Hasselhoff’s face.”

With a fantasy concept teaching the protagonist a great lesson about life, comparisons to It’s a Wonderful Life are already flying amongst the journalism circles. “I don't know if it's our version of it. It definitely has learning a lesson about the way you're living your life. I wouldn't compare our movie to that, but it has a structure where it's about a man who doesn't appreciate all that he has and finds out at the end that life has been great and he has to enjoy that. They have similarities, no doubt about it.”

Even great successes like Adam Sandler need to learn that lesson every once in a while. “I need a kick in the ass a lot. I always tend to forget. In one day, I have times where I'm feeling great, I feel like I love my life, and then 2:30 rolls around and I'm the angriest man alive. My wife sees it.”

Since Click covers past, present and future in the main character’s life, the soundtrack features many of the ‘80s songs that have become a staple in Sandler films. “We all got songs we loved in this movie. I don't know. It fits. The Cranberries tune was one of Tim Herlihy’s favorite tunes, and I love that song, too. We're psyched when it's a song from growing up. I am 39 and when a fellow 39-year-old comes up to me and says, 'I like that one tune in your movie,' I'm happy to hear that.”

The Sandler crew is a sort of family that always collaborates. Click director Frank Coraci also helmed The Wedding Singer and The Waterboy and Herlihy is Sandler’s usual writing partner. They were all friends from college.

“When did we first meet? Was it in the hallway? Coraci was the cool [guy]. He was great. At NYU, he always frosted his hair, he had a mohawk. Girls loved had him. He went to Danceteria a lot. He went to a lot of cool clubs. He was the Lord of the '80s. He brought me into punk. He listened to New Wave and punk.”

Coraci himself recalls, “We met one night in college. We just knew each other, of each other, and we hung out and spent the whole night making each other laugh. I remember thinking ‘I'm in college, everybody's more mature.’ And then we met each other and we just made each other laugh. He did voices. I did voices. And then we just after that lived across the hall from each other every year. [Producer] Jack [Giarraputo] was my roommate. Tim Herlihy was his roommate. And Adam was also in a lot of my short films back in the day and we would go see him do stand-up.”

The Sandler family also includes his friends from Saturday Night Live who always pop up in cameos. He also produces starring vehicles for them. “If it’s something I feel I can do alright, I like being in those, and some that I think Schneider and Spade would be funnier at than me, I tell them to do it. I don't have any clue how we decide. There's this thing, this Click actually, one of my friends called me up, my partner told me about this idea that Steve Koren had. Steve Koren, by the way, the guy who wrote it with Mark O'Keefe, Steve Koren I've known since I was 22. He was a page at Saturday Night Live. He would answer the phones and he'd give us phone messages and then he'd give you a message and he'd say, 'Oh yeah. I wrote a joke.' And he'd tell you the joke and you go, 'Hey. Steve Koren's pretty funny' and then all of a sudden he's wrote Bruce Almighty and this thing and he's a giant writer and he's just a great guy. And anyway, they told me about the premise of the movie and asked if I was interested in that and I didn't even read the script, I just said, 'Yeah. That's a huge idea, it sounds great.' That's how I decided to do this script, just off three sentences about what the movie's about, I knew it could be awesome.”

Sandler is taking on even more serious territory in his next film, Empty City. “I don't know how to describe the movie, how to sum it up. I can't wait for Mike Binder, the man who wrote it, and hear him discuss it, because I don't know how to phrase this. But it's just about a man who's been through a terrible thing. He lost his family in 9/11, and he has a hard time just living life and just being in the moment. He doesn't want to know about life. He tries to pretend he never had a family. He can only deal with life by thinking about stuff from his past and growing up. Cheadle plays, we went to dental school together, and my character hasn't spoken to anybody in five years and Cheadle makes him feel comfortable. So it's about friendship, I guess. I'm sorry. I just don't know how to say it. It's a really interesting script and Mike Binder did a great job with the script and I saw some of it recently and it's a heavy-duty movie.”

By comparison, Click is totally light. Click opens Friday.