After making three films with Drew Barrymore, Adam Sandler has a succinct summation of the evolution of their on-screen chemistry: “It only got hornier!”
He was riffing in his familiar frat boy-turned-Everydad persona, of course, so he turned to Barrymore, his co-star in 1998’s The Wedding Singer, 2004’s 50 First Dates and now in Blended, for a more philosophical perspective. “I would sum it up with respect,” Barrymore mused during a recent press conference. “If you respect somebody, you can kind of like make it into love – or in lust, or a happy, or a funny, or a sad – but for me it all stems from respect. I’ve always respected him. I love him. He makes us laugh in the world. Aside from what we do together, I was so in love with things that he did, from Saturday Night Live and Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison and, like, everything. I was like, I love this person so much.”
“He has such a gift, but then when it just comes down to that one-on-one, just us two, like alone on a playing field doing our thing, then it’s like total respect. Like giddy,” she chuckled. “Giddy respect – done! That’s it: Giddy respect.”
“I love Drew,” Sandler added. “In all three movies we had the pleasure of falling in love. And the first two I faked it, but this one I really did.”
Joking aside, Sandler said he’s enjoyed their evolving on-screen relationship – from young singles falling in love in The Wedding Singer to a married couple overcoming adversity in 50 First Dates to single parents circling a second run at romance in Blended – that he can envision them headlining an On Golden Pond-style coupling decades from now.
“I can see doing that – that would be great: On Golden Pond, but maybe with a few more jokes in it,” he laughed. “We both have new things going on in our lives since Wedding Singer to 50 First to now, and we both have families. But we’ve always stayed in touch. We’ve always been good friends and checked in on each other as much as possible. And no matter what’s going on I’m pulling for Drew, and I feel the same about her whenever I’m doing something. I know she’s pulling for me. We just have a nice friendship.”
“And then every eight years I call you up and I say, ‘We need to meet for lunch,” Barrymore interjected. “And then I say, ‘It’s time …’”
“It’s time to do a movie,” Sandler said, completing her sentence.
Working for a second time with their Wedding Singer director Frank Coraci, the duo play a pair of seemingly mismatched single parents whose attempts to kickstart their love lives (he’s a widower, she’s divorcing) fizzle partly due to their dedication to their families, until both clans are thrown together on an unexpected African vacation. For this outing, the stars were encouraged to put their own spin on scenes whenever inspiration struck.
“We get to improvise a lot,” Barrymore said. “There are some movies where it’s, like, a little more loose, and then you do stuff there, or it’s very strict, and they won’t let you like stray from the script. This one is like, their movies are very well thought out, and then you also get to play. So you have the comfort of knowing that you’re getting the goods, but then you have the awesome scary excitement feeling of, ‘I’ve got to come up with fun stuff to do on the day.’ Give them options in editing – play. It’s fun. The night before, you get weird ideas and you get to try them. It’s awesome.”
Barrymore said the actors – aided by fast-on-their-feet comedy veterans like Kevin Nealon, Joel McHale and Wendi McClendon-Covey and savvy newcomers like Jessica Lowe – tried countless comic variations on their scenes. “When I saw the film, I was like, I wonder what they’re going to pick,’ and they always pick, like, my favorite stuff – or what I thought was really the best, or clearly just objectively the best – so that’s also really cool because there’s some films you’re like, ‘God – there’s good stuff in there that did NOT end up in the movie,’” she said. “And this is the opposite: Like, all the gold came up.”
The actress, who recently became a mother for the second time, is also fond of the film’s theme of blending families that don’t immediately seem like they’ll work together. “Because families aren’t always exactly like man meets woman, has kids, and they’re married for 40 years,” she said. “Sometimes you have to find things along the way. And when you get a glimmer of hope that there’s potential there or it might work, it’s amazing.”
Coraci said both stars seamlessly made the transition to playing parents on screen because family looms so large in their off-screen lives. “As a witness to Adam and Drew being parents now, I see how happy they are when they’re with their kids,” the director said. “It’s like the most joy ever seen in both of them. It’s awesome to see.”
Sandler said he definitely relates to both characters’ tendency to devote 99 percent of their lives to their children, recalling plans he and his wife made for Mother’s Day. “We had a great time with the family, we were with them all day long,” he recalled. “We had the best time and the kids were falling asleep, and my wife said, ‘Maybe when they fall asleep, we’ll go see a movie.’ I said, ‘Yeah, that’s a good idea.’ So then they weren’t falling asleep. And then it was like, ‘All right. I think we’ve got about 20 more minutes for them to fall asleep or we’re not going to do this.’ And next thing I know, my wife’s sleeping. And one kid’s sleeping with my wife, and I’m up with the other one. I’m like, ‘Yeah, we’re not going to the movies.’”
“God. I had such a similar night,” Barrymore chuckled. “I was like, ‘Yeah, we should do something special because it’s Mother’s Day.’ Now, this day means more to me than my birthday or Valentine’s Day or Christmas or any other day of the year. Really, this is it.” She took a long pause before delivering the reality of her evening: “Sweatpants, Game of Thrones, takeout because we were just too tired after a full day with Olive.”
“My God, the difference when you have kids is someone who wants to meet you after 9:30 at night,” Sandler said, shaking his head. “It is pathetic. And just being that giant sacrifice of, ‘Do I do this? Do I stay out until 10:30 and be angry all tomorrow?’
“I know,” Barrymore laughed. “My sister in law says, ‘9:30? I’m not living in Barcelona! I need dinner at 6!’ And I never got that until now. Like, four years ago when I met her I’m like, ‘God. that’s kind of extreme. I love Barcelona.’ And now, I’m so mad when somebody suggests an 8 p.m. reservation. I’m like, ‘That means we’re not eating until 8:30, 9. Forget it. No!’”
Blended opens today nationwide.