Adam Sandler is one of the most successful blockbuster actors of the last few decades, but what big roles has the actor missed out on over the years?
Hubie Halloween and Uncut Gems star Adam Sandler is one of the most reliably successful blockbuster actors of the last few decades, but what famous roles has he turned down since his career began? Recently seen in the critically adored Uncut Gems (and the less loved Hubie Halloween), Adam Sandler’s long career proves the actor can ably bounce between indie hits, big-budget blockbuster comedies, and voiceover work alike.
However, as Pixels and That’s My Boy prove, not all of Sandler’s big-screen outing is so beloved by audiences. Critics, meanwhile, argue that Sandler’s movies have been mostly bad since the mid-noughties despite their continuing box office success. The actor has certainly made mistakes through his storied screen career, as proven by the notable roles Adam Sandler turned down.
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Of course, Sandler isn’t alone in missing out on some stellar movies during his career. Many great actors, like Wolverine himself Hugh Jackman, have lost out on some incredible roles during their long tenure onscreen, often due to scheduling conflicts or not being quite right for the part. But Sandler has been unfortunate enough to miss out on not only some great roles, but also the opportunity to work with some big-name directors too (not to mention a place in the MCU)
Willy Wonka – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Thanks to Sandler’s reputation for playing zany eccentrics in everything from The Waterboy to Little Nicky, legendary horror director Tim Burton considered the actor for the famous role of Willy Wonka in his 2005 remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The part ended up going to Johnny Depp instead, and it’s almost impossible to picture Sandler in the role as the actor was at the time too busy moving away from goofy characters and reinventing himself as a relatable everyman in 50 First Dates and The Longest Yard. Bizarrely, WWE star The Rock revealed recently via Instagram that he was also considered for the role and, although the Rock might have made for a strange Wonka, it’s fair to say Sandler would have been an even odder choice.
Rocket Raccoon – Guardians of the Galaxy
Nowadays, almost any actor alive would sell their soul for a role in Disney’s biggest franchise, the sprawling Marvel Cinematic Universe. However back in 2014, the MCU had only a handful of blockbusters under its belt and the world wasn’t exactly abuzz with excitement at the news that a Troma graduate was shooting an adaptation of cult comic Guardians of the Galaxy starring the guy from Parks & Rec. Fast forward a few years and the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise is a critically beloved addition to the MCU, and Bradley Cooper’s Rocket Raccoon is an iconic member of the team. Despite the success of the series, it’s nonetheless understandable that Sandler didn’t take on the role of Rocket Raccoon as he spent 2014 busy focusing on family comedies such as Blended and more serious dramatic efforts like… Men, Women, and Children and The Cobbler. Maybe the comic book movie would have served his career better after all.
Vincent – Collateral
In what must be the oddest addition to this rundown, Adam Sandler was somehow considered for the role of Tom Cruise’s terrified taxi driver in Michael Mann’s ice-cold 2004 thriller Collateral. Now this one changed a lot from script to screen, and by the director’s own account it does sound the draft of Collateral that Sandler was considered for wasn’t the intense thriller viewers eventually got. The tense movie sees Cruise’s heartless hitman take a cab driver hostage, forcing the poor guy to ferry him from hit to hit throughout one long night. Jamie Foxx is superb in the role of the cabbie, and it’s hard to picture Sandler pulling off his constant discomfort and rising fear (although Uncut Gems proves he could have taken on Cruise’s role).
But according to Mann, Sandler was originally meant to play the part alongside an assassin played by Russell Crowe rather than Cruise. On top of that, the early draft of the movie was set in New York rather than LA, and the entire affair sounded more rote and uninspired than the direction Mann eventually took it in. The changes Mann made resulted in an unfortunate near-miss for Sandler but were also apparently what was right for the film. Who’s to say whether it would have been so well-received had it gone ahead as planned.
Roy – Knight & Day
Surprising as it may sound, Collateral wasn’t the only Cruise vehicle that Sandler turned down… Although it was the better one. When the script for an action-comedy entitled “Wichita” reached Adam Sandler’s desk way back in 2005 the actor politely declined, saying he couldn’t see himself playing the movie’s suave secret agent hero, Roy Miller/Matthew Knight. It would be another half-decade and a title changes before Knight & Day, an action-oriented rom-com starring Cruise as the secret agent and Cameron Diaz as the civilian swept up in his adventures, hit cinemas. And suffice to say Sandler made the right call on this one as, even with a reliable action star like Tom Cruise in the main role, Knight & Day struggled to make a dent in the box office and received middling reviews at best.
The Bear Jew – Inglorious Basterds
In what may be the most regrettable choice in his career, Adam Sandler is one of few actors who can say they not only turned down a Tarantino role but turned down a Tarantino role that was written specifically for them. Yes, hard as it may be to believe, Sandler opted not to play Donny Donowitz (better known as “The Bear Jew”) in 2009’s anarchic war movie Inglorious Basterds. Although Tarantino wrote the part with Sandler in mind, the role ended up going to Hostel director Eli Roth (an underrated actor who nails the brief part). It’s not hard to see why Tarantino thought that Sandler, who has played countless quick-to-anger antiheroes in his years on screen, would have been perfect for the part, and it’s truly a shame that committing to Judd Apatow flop Funny People meant Sandler was unable to make this one a reality. Teh casting would have fit with Tarantino’s penchant for stunt-casting – like Mike Myers’ role in the same film – and it could have given Adam Sandler‘s career a major shot in the arm years prior to his Oscar attention did.
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