November 22, 2023 - 9:56 am
Adam Sandler begins the interview with a fist pump. “Just giving the energy!” he proclaims.
News flash: The 57-year-old funnyman has energy to spare.
Sandler returns to Las Vegas on Dec. 2 as his “I Missed You” stand-up tour stops at Mandalay Bay.
This is the guy who begins shows by saying, “My name is Adam. I’m not particularly talented. I’m not particularly good-looking. And yet I’m a multimillionaire.”
Still, it never hurts to have a day job to fall back on. Or in Sandler’s case, a production deal with Netflix, where his latest project, the animated movie “Leo,” is now streaming.
Sandler wrote and produced the picture and voices the title character, an elementary school classroom lizard. Over seven decades, Leo connects deeply with the kids, who pour out their stresses and fears, during overnight visits to their homes.
“It’s about trust and how much we need each other,” he says. “It’s also about how parents are going to make mistakes, and Leo serves as an outlet for the kids. He gets them to talk and say what’s going on with them. The kids can let out their fears and worries to Leo. It’s quite real.”
The “Saturday Night Live” alum and Brooklyn native lives in L.A. with his wife, Jackie, and daughters Sadie, 17, and Sunny, 15.
On a Saturday afternoon, Sandler shared his good life tips, starting with this one: “Find what’s funny in life and grab that joy.”
Timing is everything
“My kids give me the most joy, but you have to adjust your life to their schedules,” Sandler says. “My thing is, I don’t go out to meet anyone after 9:30 at night. I eat dinner with the family at 6 or 7 and then the rest of the night is for them on most nights. You need to be there as much as possible.”
OK is enough
“When I’d leave the house as a teenager, my parents would always say, ‘Be safe,’ ” he recalls. “As a parent, I’ve come to learn that the goal is everyone is OK. That OK becomes the most important thing in your life. If the family is OK, then I’m OK.”
Balance is key
Sandler says he looks for balance in life and in his comedy. “I was excited to do ‘Leo’ because it balances the more poignant, heartfelt moments in life with comedy. At the core, it’s about what kids go through growing up, including the painful moments. The sad thing is when kids keep their pain to themselves.”
Take your kids to work
Sandler’s daughters are also part of “Leo,” after he first cast them in the streaming hit “You’re So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah.” “I think my producer’s rabbit is in there, too,” Sandler jokes. “The kids keep us young at heart, although we’re very immature typical males,” he says of his “Leo” crew.
Sandler has a core group of friends who have been with him all his life. “Be around people who make you happy,” he stresses. “Life is pretty simple if you follow that one.”
Find the one
Sandler has been married since 2003 to Jackie Titone, whom he met working on 1999’s “Big Daddy.” (She played the waitress who takes his drink order in a sports bar.) Her “I do,” he says, “was the best gift of my life.”
His secret to a long marriage: “It’s not really a secret, but we just love spending time with each other. And we make each other laugh and try to listen, include and support each other. We just try our best, and we always talk about the future.”
Find your mentor
Who is the Leo in Sandler’s life? “My family has always been very involved in my life, but my other mentor when I first did stand-up was a guy named Guy Luscious, who would sit and talk to me after my set. He talked to me and Chris Rock for two or three hours a night at the Comic Strip, which he managed. He had a nice way of talking about what we were doing and where we were going.
“Guy didn’t have to spend all that time talking to new comedians about what he thought was working and not — but he did. … It’s important to be there for people. Pass on a few wisdoms.”
Talk about it
Sandler says he’s an open book. “We all have private concerns. You don’t want to tell people about your problems, but you should talk it out. Say, ‘This is what makes me nervous or scared or upset.’ … Just to have someone say, ‘Everyone feels that way’ is so wonderful. We all want to know that we’re not alone.”
‘Heart and soul’
Sandler has spent the past decade mixing comedies with dramas like his turn in “Uncut Gems.” How do they differ? “Comedy is a different vibe,” he offers. “You get to laugh a lot more on the set of a comedy. When I do a drama, it’s not as much laughing. But you find yourself in similar situations where you’re connecting and having a good time.” His goal: “I put my heart and soul into everything I do.”
Do a nice thing
“When I hear someone laugh, I tear up inside. My mom used to tell me to go out there and do a nice thing for someone every single day. I figure if I make someone smile or laugh then I did that nice thing — and I made my mom proud.”