Judd Apatow on Punch Drunk Love and how he influenced Adam Sandler’s performance

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Adam Sandler gets a bit of a rough deal in Hollywood these days – one of the biggest box-office draws in recent memory, the comedian had a huge string of success with films such as The Wedding Singer, Big Daddy and 50 First Dates all grossing over $100million domestically (he has had 15 films over his career hit that mark). But his recent efforts haven’t fared very well with critics, with his underrated turn in Judd Apatow’s underrated Funny People perhaps the last meaningful film he made.

Indeed Apatow’s influence on Sandler’s career has been huge, unsurprising given that the two were roommates before they hit it big in Hollywood, but what is perhaps surprising is the indirect influence that the writer/director had on Sandler’s performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s wonderful Punch-Drunk Love. Released to huge acclaim in 2002, the film is regarded by many as the comedian’s most unexpected but career-best performance and even though much of the film is down to Anderson’s skill as a creator, it was Apatow who was part of the inspiration behind Sandler’s performance.

Speaking to podcast “You Made It Weird”, hosted by Pete Holmes (via ThePlaylist), Apatow spoke about the film and how Sandler utilised Apatow and his own brother to help bring Barry Egan to life, saying:

“Maybe this isn’t even true, but [Paul Thomas Anderson] was just trying to make a funny romantic comedy, but… he is such a genius…he can’t help making something innovative, daring and incredible… But the funny thing is Adam used to say to me, he’s like, ‘You know, I’m doing you and my brother [in this role].’ And I watch the movie and I see it and I think it’s why it makes me cry because [Adam] knew me when I was a kid and I was terrible with women, just scared to death. And I see it in the behavior, especially the moment when he’s talking about the DJ. He’s trying to tell the woman the story about this funny thing the DJ did, but he’s just bombing, bombing on the date trying to explain this joke and I thought, ‘This is how I sound[ed] to Adam every day.’”

Apatow also spoke about Sandler’s career as it stands now, with the star now on his third film of a four-picture deal with Netflix (comedy Sandy Wexler), and says that the star is still as big as ever, particularly in those places where his cinema-released films didn’t reach, saying:

“People have a very deep connection to him… We do our show ‘Love’ for Netflix and they always say, ‘You know, any Adam Sandler movie, if we put it on in a country where it’s never run, it’s instantly gigantic.’ Like you could put up ‘The Wedding Singer’ in Peru and it just explodes. He’s really beloved around the world.”

You can listen to the full interview through the link above.

Sandler’s new Netflix film, Sandy Wexler, is released on April 14th.

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