Playing a dad in Spanglish wasn’t too much of a stretch for funnyman Adam Sandler. The actor, 38, who married former model Jackie Titone last year, says he’s ready for the task. “I just recently started trying, doing the best I can,” he says. And, “it feels good trying.” After taking a serious turn in 2002’s Punch-Drunk Love, Sandler, best known for his roles as immature pranksters in frat-boy favorites like Billy Madison, returns as a sensitive chef with a marriage crisis in the dramedy Spanglish. Sandler recently chatted about being ready for baby, finding role models and learning the ropes in the kitchen.
Do you see your character as a hero in this movie? Or as a "girly man"?
No, this character feels so much like my brother. When I was in Florida for Thanksgiving, the last image I saw was my brother with his two kids and his wife hanging out on the beach swimming, and it reminded me of Spanglish. Just the fact that this guy gave me a wave, said “Love ya,” but was like, “These are my kids and I want to make sure they have a great day in Florida.” I admire that. That’s how I got to grow up, and that’s how I plan on raising my kids.
So you’ll be playing a dad offscreen too?
I do want children. I study dads more, I watch what they go through. I admire my father more than I ever did. The thing that I always think about is when my parents would get a phone call, “Hey, we’re going away to Bermuda this weekend. You want to come? But, we’re not bringing the kids.” My parents would go, “No kids? Oh no, then we can’t go.” That was my father and mother’s sacrifice. They didn’t care about anything but the kids.
What was the best advice you got from your father?
My father wasn’t perfect; he had a temper but the thing that he taught my whole family was that family was the most important thing, and no matter what, if a family member needs you, you go and help them out, you get there.
So where did your sense of humor come from?
Part of my father having a temper led to me developing a sense of humor to calm the old man down.
Onscreen, things got a little wild. It looked like costar Tea Leoni beat you up in a love scene.
I was hurting! My poor chest – that was a lot of takes. The camera kept rolling and Tea kept whacking (my chest). Like by take six, wow. My makeup girl would have to run in between takes and put flesh color back on my chest.
But you also had some fun. You learned to make a killer BLT sandwich.
In the script it said (my character) will make a sandwich that everyone in the audience would want to eat at home, and just from the trailers for the film, I’ve been walking down the street and had people say, “Make me that sandwich, man!” At home we practiced over and over making that BLT and other stuff that, before this movie, I’d probably never even eaten. I’m excited about being able to make the BLT.