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You Don't Mess With The Zohan - Adam Sandler interview

You Don't Mess With The Zohan

Interview by Rob Carnevale

ADAM Sandler talks about playing a former MOSSAD agent turned New York hairdresser in You Don’t Mess With The Zohan, working with John McEnroe and why he likes to work with the same people in so many of his films…

Q. I can’t quite believe Zohan is really loosely based on a real character?
Adam Sandler: [Smirks] It’s not. It was a guy who used to cut my hair. I used to ask him questions about the Israeli army and stuff, so he’d be fixing my hair at the same time as he was mentioning missions and stuff.

Q. So what was the best advice he gave you?
Adam Sandler: He was pretty cool, he taught me how to shampoo the ladies, how to be delicate with them. I don’t have a delicate touch. I’m a little rougher and pull their hair. I have nervous hands. Another Israeli hairstylist I met, called Ayton, said: “I like to compliment the woman when I am cutting their hair, make her feel good about herself. You try to give a good haircut, you also try to bring a sexual energy to the haircut.”

Q Were you surprised how far the silky smooth [elderly] lady was prepared to go?
Adam Sandler: [Laughs] I was amazed. She came the first few days excited and was saying this was so funny and the script was incredible and I can’t believe we’re gonna do this. Then on day three, I think her granddaughter slept over and she had a whole new mood that day, saying: “I have a granddaughter, I can’t do what you asked me to do.” I was like: “What do you mean – you did two days of it already!” But she said: “This is wrong, we shouldn’t do this.” We managed to talk her back into feeling comfortable with it and she liked the movie when she saw it. But she definitely got nervous in the middle.

Q. And how was having your nipples licked?
Adam Sandler: It was an odd feeling. This was a nice lady who I had just met, she had a family and seemed like a good lady but she was licking my nipples. My nipples have been licked before by my wife, but this woman’s tongue felt similar to my wife’s tongue and I was getting a similar reaction and had to walk away.

Q: Who had to tell John McEnroe he was going to go shirtless?
Adam Sandler: That was a good one, man. That was in the moment – “hey, McEnroe, maybe it would be funny if you took off your shirt and swung it above your head!” If you’re an actor and someone asks you to do that, at the back of your head you’re going: “God, I’ve been eating crap lately and I’ll be on film, fat as hell.” We told him the day before: “Hey McEnroe, you wanna be in our movie?” And then on the day we asked him to take his shirt off and when he did he looked awesome. He’s probably late 40s, maybe 50. He’s a good-looking 50, and his kids were there watching their old dad swinging his shirt around his head, he was great.

Q. And whose idea was getting the boxer, Michael Buffer involved?
Adam Sandler: We were thinking who would be funny playing the bad guy, and this girl who works with me said: “What about Michael Buffer?” We started laughing our asses off and we told [Dennis] Dugan about it and he joined in the laughter. Michael then came in and read and was great. He’s a good guy, a good guy.

Q. How did Mariah Carey get involved? Any demands for rose petals?
Adam Sandler: No, not at all. She was a very good girl, worked hard, took it very seriously. We got to listen to her new album while we were shooting and going to her trailer afterwards. I was in the room when they were deciding what should be the new single. I like that new record too.

Q. How did you get in contact with her?
Adam Sandler: I don’t even remember, I might have met Mariah a long time ago on Saturday Night Live. In the original draft, we thought it was cool that the only thing the Palestinians and Israelis agree upon is Mariah Carey being hot.

Q. If you had a career other than acting, what would it be?
Adam Sandler: I don’t really have anything. Sports would be nice, I wish I was a better athlete. That would have been a little cooler, being a great boxer and walking into a room and going: “I can knock everybody out!” That’s a good feeling. Not hairdressing, it would be nice to have the skills but no.

Q. So, what was the career advice you received at school? Was it then that you knew you wanted to become an actor?
Adam Sandler: I didn’t even know I was going to get into this. I was applying for colleges and I asked my brother what I should major in and he said: “Why don’t you be an actor?” I said: “OK, I’ll do that…” And that’s how it happened – it was some pretty good advice.

Q. Your daughter is in a scene in the film. How was that for you?
Adam Sandler: On the goat, that’s right. She’s so cute, she grew up on a movie set visiting me every day, or as much as she could. She’s just happy, it’s like a camp for her because everyone’s so nice to her and treat her nice. She’s starting to understand something; when we drive down the street and see billboards and the ones for Zohan she’ll go “Dada Dada”. I recently did an introduction for The Who and we’ve got a tape of it and we were watching it in our house the other day and she was looking at the screen, then looking at me and finally went: “Two Dadas!” It was nice.

Q. You seem to have a family atmosphere on set too, working with a certain group of people…
Adam Sandler: Absolutely, my friends are the funniest guys I know, and the fact that they’re my friends makes my life a lot better. But I don’t just put these guys in my movies and work with them because they’re my buddies. I do think they’re great and it works out.

Q. It does seem a whole generation of comedy talent know or lived or grew up together…
Adam Sandler: Rob [Schneider] lived across the road from me and [co-writer Judd] Apatow and I were roommates. David Spade was down the street. Apatow was best friends with Jim Carrey and Ben Stiller, so we all hung out together.

Q. What’s next, you’ve got Bedtime Stories with Russell Brand haven’t you?
Adam Sandler: Yes, Russell Brand’s in that, he’s a good man that kid and I got a lot of questions today about Russell. I did a family movie for Disney and Russell’s my buddy in it – he plays the room service guy in it and now he’s writing and starring in his own movie. I think he’s a great kid and congratulations to him and his mom if she’s watching this. And I’m getting ready to do another Apatow movie.

Read our review of You Don’t Mess With The Zohan