Adam Sandler almost cut his teeth as a Nazi hunter in Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning “Inglourious Basterds.”
The “Uncut Gems” star was the muse for the “Basterds” character of Sergeant Donny “The Bear Jew” Donowitz, as writer-director Tarantino confirmed during Bill Maher’s “Club Random” podcast with co-host Judd Apatow. However, Sandler was already committed to Apatow’s 2009 film “Funny People” by the time “Inglourious Basterds” went into production.
Tarantino had co-starred opposite Sandler in 2000 comedy “Little Nicky” and was inspired by his time with Sandler on set.
“[Judd and I ] met each other through Adam Sandler during the time that I did ‘Little Nicky,’” Tarantino said (via Variety). “I was like hanging out with that crew for a while. We went to a bunch of different things together. But also ‘Freaks and Geeks’ had just went off the air or it was on its way to go off the air and I had missed it, but that whole ‘Happy Madison’ crowd was like crazy for it.”
Apatow replied, “I feel bad because when I did ‘Funny People’ with Sandler, I wasn’t aware that that was the exact time you were trying to use him for ‘Inglourious Basterds.’”
Tarantino continued, “Obviously he should’ve done yours because of the whole thing of it. I mean, you start with the fucking video cassette of you guys as kids. But yeah, the Bear Jew was going to…I wrote the Bear Jew for Adam Sandler. When I was doing ‘Little Nicky,’ he’s telling me like, ‘Oh man, I get to fucking beat up Nazis with a bat? Fucking script! Fucking awesome! I can’t fucking wait! I can’t fucking wait!’ He was like telling every Jewish guy, ‘I’m going to fucking play this guy who beats up Nazis with a fucking bat.’”
Tarantino had a tough time finding a replacement for Sandler in “Inglourious Basterds,” joking, “Here’s the problem. [Judd] wrapped up all the good Jews [for ‘Funny People’]. That was the problem. Seth Rogen and all the good Jews were doing ‘Funny People.’ I’m killing Hitler with baseball bats and there’s no good Jews available! David Krumholtz, nobody! All the good Jews were all wrapped up! I’m doing the Jewish male fantasy!”
Eli Roth was eventually cast in the role.
And Roth wasn’t the only stand-in for Tarantino’s first choice casting for “Basterds.” Diane Kruger revealed earlier this year that Tarantino was reluctant to audition her for the female lead due to not liking a past film of hers.
“He didn’t want to audition me because he saw a movie that I was in he didn’t like. So he didn’t believe in me from the get-go,” Kruger said. “Literally, the only reason he auditioned me is because there was no one left to audition.”
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