After becoming a Saturday Night Live cast member, Sandler went on to star in several Hollywood feature films that grossed over $100 million at the box office. He is best known for his comedic roles, such as in the films Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy, and Mr Deeds. Though he has ventured into more dramatic territory. In 1999, Sandler founded Happy Madison, a film and television production company that has produced numerous films and developed the 2007 television series Rules of Engagement.
Adam Sandler was born in Brooklyn , New York to Jewish parents, Stanley and Judy Sandler. When he was five, his family moved to Manchester, New Hampshire , where he attended Manchester Central High School . He found he was a natural comic, and nurtured his talent while at New York University by performing regularly in clubs and on campuses. Sandler graduated from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts in 1988.Later in his career, he would draw on his earliest experiences for material for his comedy and movies. The song "Lunchlady Land" from his debut album They're All Gonna Laugh At You! is dedicated to Emalee, the lunchlady at Hayden Dining Hall at New York University.
In the mid to late 1980s, Sandler played Theo Huxtable's friend, Smitty, on The Cosby Show. He was a performer for the MTV game show Remote Control , on which he made appearances as the characters "Trivia Delinquent" or "Stud Boy". Early in his career, Sandler performed in comedy clubs, taking the stage at his brother's urging when he was only 17. He was discovered by comedian Dennis Miller , who caught Sandler's act in Los Angeles. Miller recommended him to Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels . Sandler was hired as a writer for SNL in 1990 and became a featured player the following year, making a name for himself by performing amusing original songs on the show.
Sandler's first starring role was in 1989, in the film Going Overboard . In 1994 he co-starred in Airheads with Brendan Fraser, and Steve Buscemi. He starred in Billy Madison as a grown, though uneducated, man repeating grades 1–12 to earn back his father's respect, along with the right to inherit his father's multi-million-dollar hotel empire. In At the Movies, Siskel and Ebert gave the film a very bad review, and said of Sandler "...Not an attractive screen presence, he might have a career as a villain or a fall guy or the butt of a joke, but as the protagonist his problem is he creates the fingernails on the blackboard" with Siskel adding "...you don't have a good motivation for the character's behavior". He followed this film with other financially successful comedies such as Bulletproof, Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Singer. He was initially cast in the bachelor-party-themed comedy/thriller Very Bad Things, but had to back out due to his involvement in The Waterboy, which was one of his first hits.
Although his earlier films did not receive critical praise, his more recent films, beginning with Punch-Drunk Love, have received more positive reviews. Roger Ebert , in his review of Punch-Drunk Love, concluded that Sandler had been wasted in earlier films with poorly written scripts and characters with no development.Sandler has moved outside the genre of slapstick comedy to take on more serious parts such as the aforementioned Punch-Drunk Love (for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe ), Spanglish and Reign Over Me. He played a loving father figure in Big Daddy.
At one point, Sandler was considered for the part that went to Jamie Foxx in Collateral. He also was one of the finalists along with Jim Carrey and Johnny Depp for the role of Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He returned to more dramatic fare with Reign Over Me, a drama about a man who loses his entire family in 9/11 and rekindles a friendship with his old college roommate (played by Don Cheadle). He starred in the film I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry alongside Kevin James , as a New York City fireman pretending to be gay to keep up an insurance scam so that his best friend's children can have benefits. Sandler headlined You Don't Mess with the Zohan, a comedy about a Mossad agent who fakes his own death and moves to the United States to become a hair stylist. The film was written by Sandler, The 40-Year-Old-Virgin writer-director Judd Apatow (who was an old roommate of Sandler's when both were starting out).
"Like Will Ferrell l, Sandler has layers of tenderness under layers of irony under layers of tenderness—plus a floating anger like Jupiter’s great red spot," wrote David Edelstein of New York magazine in a review of You Don't Mess with the Zohan. "Some performers become stars because we can read them instantly, others—like Sandler—because we never tire of trying to get a fix on them."
Sandler starred in Bedtime Stories, a fantasy film about a stressed hotel maintenance worker whose bedtime stories he reads to his niece and nephew begin to come true. This marked Sandler's first family film and first film under the Walt Disney banner. Kerri Russell and English comedian Russell Brand co-starred.
In 2009, Sandler starred in Judd Apatow's third directorial feature Funny People . He played a very successful stand up comedian who finds out he has a terminal illness and he takes a young inexperienced comic, played by Seth Rogen , under his wing. Other co-stars included Eric Bana and Apatow's wife, Leslie Mann . The film contained more dramatic elements than Apatow's previous efforts.Filming began in October 2008 and finished in January 2009. The film was released on July 31, 2009.At one point, Sandler was in talks to star in Quentin Tarantino's World War II film Inglorious Basterds , which he confirmed, but he did not appear in it due to a scheduling conflict with Funny People. Following the release of Funny People, it, along with Punch-Drunk Love were cited in the June 2010 announcement that Sandler was one of 135 people (including 20 actors) invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Sandler appeared in Grown Ups , teaming up with Kevin James , Chris Rock , Rob Schneider , and David Spade (all of whom have worked with Sandler before) for a film about five best friends from high school who reunite 30 years later on the 4th of July weekend. Other costars include Salma Hayek (playing Sandler's wife), Maria Bello (playing James' wife), and fellow SNL alumna Maya Rudolph (playing Rock's wife).
Sandler starred in the 2011 film Just Go With It , with Jennifer Aniston , a romantic comedy written by Allan Loeb and Tim Dowling and directed by Dennis Dugan. He played a plastic surgeon who asks his office manager, played by Aniston, to pose as his wife, in order to prove his honesty to his much younger girlfriend, played by Brooklyn Decker . Sandler will also provide the voice of a capuchin monkey in Kevin James' Zookeeper, which is set to be released on July 8, 2011.