The Shady Side Of Adam Sandler

Adam Sandler has been entertaining the masses with his comedic antics since the '90s. After scoring a job as a writer on "Saturday Night Live," he began demonstrating his skills as a comedian and actor and quickly rose to fame by playing a series of roles on the show. Fans quickly took to his sense of exaggerated humor and his quick-witted style, and it wasn't long before he established an impressive fan following.

Sandler parlayed his success on the show to the big screen when he started starring in movies such as "Coneheads," "Airheads," and "Billy Madison." A completely unexplained firing from "Saturday Night Live" was the beginning of many sketchy moments for the actor and comedian, who began displaying a series of behaviors that raised eyebrows. The content in his comedy shows and movies wasn't always agreeable to critics. Sandler also saw backlash for some of his off-camera behavior as well as his business decisions.

After rising to fame as the "funny man" on stage, on television, and on the big screen, many of Sandler's statements and actions soon became identified as anything but funny.

His questionable views of women

In spite of being in an industry that thrives on pushing buttons to generate a reaction among audience members, Adam Sandler has been accused of taking his commentary just a touch too far. The manner in which he speaks of the opposite sex has been heavily scrutinized.

In October 2014, Netflix announced that they had penned a new deal with Sandler, which would see him acting and producing four films for the streaming giant. Sandler released a statement shortly thereafter, and his response generated a whole lot of attention, for all the wrong reasons. "When these fine people came to me with an offer to make four movies for them, I immediately said yes for one reason and one reason only...Netflix rhymes with wet chicks," Sandler said (via Fast Company).

One year later, actor Rose McGowan was featured in a candid interview with Entertainment Weekly and alluded to Sandler's choices as examples of sexism in Hollywood. This followed a tweet in which McGowan shaded Sandler for a script encouraging female actors to wear push-up bras and show cleavage (via E! News). While speaking briefly about her interactions with him, McGowan told EW, "I was offended by the stupidity more than anything. I was offended by the fact that went through so many people's hands and nobody red flagged it." She later added, "I'm not trying to vilify Adam Sandler." McGowan then tweeted (via The Hollywood Reporter) that her agency had fired her for speaking out.

Does Adam Sandler support a double standard?

Surrounding Rose McGowan's tweets about Adam Sandler, the producer's treatment of women has been critiqued, from poor manners to unwanted touching.   

In 2015, a red carpet photograph emerged from a promotional event for "Hotel Transylvania 2," in which Selena Gomez was dressed in formal attire while standing in between Kevin James and Sandler, both of whom were dressed casually, in comparison. Though the photo didn't attract much notice, one commenter wrote on Twitter, "Double standard needs to be called it out. [Adam Sandler] in sweats on red carpet — gross!"

Then there was the more troubling incident that transpired on the "Graham Norton Show." While promoting his Netflix project "The Meyerowitz Stories," Sandler sat with his co-stars and was seen touching Claire Foy's knee. Journalist Rachael Revesz wrote for the Independent, "It's not OK to touch someone, to move too closely to anyone, to presume you have the right to dominate someone's personal space." Though her spokesperson said she was unoffended, Foy was clearly uncomfortable with the gesture and could be seen removing Sandler's hand off her body (via the Independent).

The content in one of his movies raised alarms for child advocates

Adam Sandler's 2012 release of the movie "That's My Boy" generated some very bad publicity for the actor. Rather than being in the headlines for shattering records with his project, the spotlight was on the movie's messaging. Critics raised the alarm about the portrayal of child abuse within the film, which Sandler both starred in and produced.

The movie's plot followed the relationship between Sandler's character, Donny Berger, and his middle school teacher, Mary McGarricle. The two became involved in a sexual relationship and had a son, who was played by Andy Samberg. Sandler's approach to the film was questionable. The movie praised his character as being a "stud," and made light of the troubling, illegal interactions which unfolded between an underage male and his teacher.

According to The Washington Post, child advocates protested against the movie, and viewers were disturbed by the messaging that it presented. A petition against "That's My Boy" was circulated by Darkness to Light, a non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. The organization slammed the movie for glamorizing statutory rape.

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

He keeps casting his own friends in movies

Adam Sandler's movies carry different plot lines and tell dramatically different tales, but the majority of them seem to have one very strange thing in common — the cast is typically comprised of Sandler's closest friends. While it's common for friends to support one another, Sandler's continuous approach of casting the same group of pals in his movies has raised questions about the integrity of his creative process. Sandler seems to be indifferent to the criticism, and has publicly made light of the situation.

During an interview with the Independent, Sandler discussed the casting process for his films. "I sit in my room, and think up an idea. Then I call up all my friends and they say, 'That's awesome! You are the best!'" Sandler said. While he was partially joking, as the ideas are more of a collaborative process, the part about Sandler's buddies being involved is true.

Sandler frequently casts Dennis Dugan, Kevin James, Rob Schneider, Steve Buscemi, and David Spade. During the "Literally! With Rob Lowe" podcast in 2020, Spade revealed that the cronies often contribute jokes to Sandler's movies. They've worked together as a reprieve from competing with one another, particularly on "Grown Ups," opting to share the spotlight instead. "It's the idea of real-life comedy that I love," Sandler told the Independent. "You know, we stretch what goes on in real life, what's actually happening with your friends."

He aimed at little kids during the dodgeball scene in Billy Madison

One of the most notable films that Adam Sandler has starred in is "Billy Madison," and for fans, that film is a true staple of his contributions to the world of comedy. Some will be shocked to discover that underneath the veil of comedic antics, this film actually represents one of the sketchiest revelations about what Sandler is really like when the cameras aren't rolling.

In Sandler's March 2017 interview with Conan O'Brien, the comedian joked that the infamous dodgeball scene from the film actually involved him hitting young children with the ball — on purpose. "I hit some kid pretty hard and he gets upset and he starts crying, and then the parents all come up to him..." he admitted. Sandler found out that the children were unaware that they would actually be hit by the balls he was throwing. "That's the scene. I'm a big guy, went back to school, I'm supposed to plug all of these kids... Didn't they read the script?" Sandler said. He then recalled that the parents told him the children were just 6 years old and were not yet able to read.

After quipping about the irate parents that were troubled by his behavior, Sandler continued to joke about his actions. "I think I told the guys to roll anyways and I nailed a bunch of kids," he said.

He reportedly has anger issues

Fans of Adam Sandler's movies may have noticed a strange pattern in his roles. Sandler often plays "nice guy" characters that have a mean streak or are quick to lose their tempers.

During an interview with The Harvard Crimson in 2000, Sandler was questioned about why he has continuously cast himself as a character who struggles with anger management under the guise of comedy. He was asked if there is any correlation between this depiction and his personal life. Sandler didn't hesitate to comment, admitting that he does indeed have a short fuse in person. "In real life, I do have a bit of that problem. But over the years, I've been getting better I think," Sandler said. He continued, "I like playing characters who get insulted a lot and who lose their temper because of it or can't think of a snappy comeback. But you're right — I do like snapping and yelling, it's part of my comedy."

During an interview with Howard Stern in 2015, Sandler admitted to having a temper once again, but declared that he hadn't been in a physical altercation since the age of 18.

He and Howard Stern had a weird, low-key fight

During his time on-air, Howard Stern has slammed a number of celebrities, and has become synonymous for roasting public figures. It didn't sit well with Adam Sandler that at one point, he was the pit of Stern's jokes. Stern publicly humiliated Sandler by repeatedly slamming his movies and criticizing his acting. Us Weekly reported that in 2012, Stern acknowledged his berating of Sandler on his podcast by saying, "I know Adam Sandler won't come on the show because I've, in the past, criticized his movies. ... I guess that's the reason, but am I the only one criticizing the content in his movies?"

The two had an awkward encounter on an airplane and avoided one another, but continued to cast shade behind the scenes. In 2015, Sandler admitted to Stern that his feelings were deeply hurt by his commentary, and he explained that the bad reviews had an impact on him at the time. "When I was at NYU freshman year, I loved you. That's why it was weird when you used to slam me. It would break my heart because I loved you growing up," Sandler said.

Stern remorsefully responded, "I always felt bad about all the years we didn't speak, I really did, because I was a total f***ing a**hole." Stern and Sandler officially buried the hatchet in 2015 when Sandler made his first-ever appearance on "The Howard Stern Show."

He's wildly selfish when it comes to selecting shooting locations

When it comes to finding the perfect location for filming his movies, Adam Sandler has a very interesting process. During Sandler's May 22, 2014, guest spot on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!", he confessed to selecting movie locations that are in faraway places so that he could make a vacation out of each experience. During his discussion about "50 First Dates," Sandler said the movie was initially set in a different location. "Imagine if we did it in Hawaii, how great that movie would be. ... I've been doing it ever since," Sandler said (via Entertainment Weekly).

Sandler supposedly uses the budget for each movie to fund his travels, and The AV Club has gone as far as claiming, "...his movies are just paid vacations." Sandler's expansive movie location list means he has taken quite a tour of the world, seemingly without ever having to pay a dime. According to EW, "Blended" was set in South Africa, "Jack and Jill" was set on a cruise ship, and "You Don't Mess with the Zohan" was filmed in Mexico, to name a few.

In fact, Ultimate Africa boasted all the incredible locations Sandler enjoyed visiting while filming "Blended" in South Africa in 2014. "Scenes were shot at the resort's animal park, within the Palace of the Lost City hotel, on the hotel's pool terrace and in the Crystal Court restaurant," they said. The site listed a number of personal activities Sandler enjoyed while filming, including riding ostriches and enjoying the region's natural setting.

Sandler and Sony's spat turned ugly

Adam Sandler's very public falling-out with Sony revealed the perception that Sony had of Sandler and his overall work ethic. As part of a Sony hack in 2014, leaked messages surfaced which didn't paint Sandler in a very good light. Gawker reported on the content within the memos: "...the studio needs to change deal structure that has been in place with Happy Madison, as this arrangement has disproportionately benefited Adam Sandler and his team, relative to SPE," read a message referencing Sandler's production company. "We continue to be saddled with the mundane, formulaic Adam Sandler Films. Let's raise the bar a little on the films we produce," said one employee.

Additional leaked emails were posted by the Daily Beast, revealing internal conflicts between Sandler and Sony, which seemed to surround a potential film treatment for the children's board game "Candyland." Tensions ran so high that the head of the studio at the time, Amy Pascal, wound up referencing Sandler as an "a**hole." It became publicly apparent that Sony wasn't sad to sever ties with Sandler when he transitioned to Netflix.

Culturally inappropriate jokes got him in hot water

Adam Sandler found himself under fire in relation to his 2015 Netflix comedy film "The Ridiculous Six." This stemmed from the report that some Native American actors were offended by the content they were being asked to film, so they walked off the set in New Mexico (per the AP). Objectionable material included a Native American woman smoking her peace pipe while relieving herself, and the insensitive names some characters were given. "It was just a misunderstanding and once the movie is out will be cleared up," Sandler told the outlet. 

CNN reported on actors walking off the film. One actor, named Allison Young, indicated that the cultural advisor on set was so offended by the nature of the content being filmed that he became the first to leave the set. Young shared that some of the Native American names on set disrespectfully portrayed her culture. Costumes were not correctly designed to reflect the Apache Tribe, either. 

Young was also upset by the fact that two white women were cast to play Native Americans and used broken English for their scenes. One woman was instructed to lay down, as if passed out, as men dumped liquor on her body for her to dance. In the news report, CNN included a lackluster statement from Netflix and another upsetting recollection from Young, who stated, "The producers just told us, 'If you guys are so sensitive, you should leave.'"