It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg have joined forces on the big screen. The SNL alums star in this weekend’s That’s My Boy as part of an estranged father-son duo. Thursday, ScreenCrave spoke with Samberg, who plays Todd, the unlucky offspring of a teenage Donny Berger (Sandler) and his math teacher. The actor discussed working with his idol-turned-co-star, the art of pitching jokes and fighting James Caan.
The screenplay for That’s My Boy was written by David Caspe, who’s fairly new to the business. How did you get his script?
Andy Samberg: It got it in my hands through my agent, who told me it was at Happy Madison and that it would be the potential of Sandler and me playing his son. Which obviously was very exciting sounding to me.
At that time, was his show Happy Endings out yet? Or was it still in development?
Andy Samberg: I’m not sure actually. I don’t remember when I made the Caspe connection. But you know, when it comes to comedy I rarely look at the writer of the script, so much as, whether or not I’m laughing within the first 20 pages. It could be a homeless person on the street. If they write a good script that’s all that really matters.
Now that the film’s over and done, have you seen the show?
Andy Samberg: I haven’t seen them all but I have watched it. My old buddy Casey Wilson’s on there doing great. And I’ve gotten friendly with Adam Pally, so it’s a good crew.
Earlier this month, at the That’s My Boy press conference, you spoke about how you used to watch Sandler on SNL. So years later, how was it getting to work with him?
Andy Samberg: It was definitely a little nerve-racking at first. Just cause we had talked a bunch of times, but I had never fully worked with him. So I put a lot of pressure on myself to do a good job and whatnot. But you know he’s very welcoming and he works with the same crew a lot. And they were very kind and put me at ease immediately. As soon as I got people laughing a little bit with my performance, it helped me relax.
There was a lot of improv on the film set. What was the trial and error process of coming up with jokes?
Andy Samberg: Generally, just pitch stuff and if everyone laughs you give it a shot. I definitely started off a little more timid in terms of throwing my joke hat in the ring but then as the shooting wore on I pitched more things that people liked. I got more confident about doing it to the point that by the end, everybody was just throwing ideas around constantly.
There are a couple of jokes that we found especially hilarious. Who came up with the “What’s Up” [Budweiser] callback?
Andy Samberg: I’m not sure what phase in writing that got added to it. I’m pretty sure it was initially brought in very sarcastically. [It was] to show that Sandler’s character was completely out of touch. So I feel like taking a joke that’s from like a pretty sub-par commercial series 13 years ago and making that kind of his catch phrase was very appropriate. But then, it does keep coming back. There was a running theme on set of me being kind of anti, but then when you screen it, you can’t argue with it because people go nuts for it.
Donny’s the type of character who’s never far from a can or bottle of beer. Was that attachment always in the script or added later on?
Andy Samberg: I think that was a Sandler acting choice. And then once he started doing it, they started figuring out new ways to throw it in. I’m not 100 percent sure on that, but it’s definitely one of my favorite things about the movie. [It's] where he’ll pull out a beer at the most inopportune time.
Can we talk about the amazing casting in this film? Vanilla Ice, Todd Bridges and Tony Orlando, where did they come from?
Andy Samberg: Sandler says that it was his wife’s idea to cast Vanilla Ice, which was a brilliant idea ’cause he kills in the movie. And then Tony Orlando, I think Sandler had met him at some party or something and had been like, ‘Wow, you’re such a great guy.’ Then they’d already had the script and had been rolling and I think it was Sandler or someone was like, ‘What about Tony for that part?’ And everybody got really excited. Things like that, they just kind of come together. But that’s something that Happy Madison’s always really good with. And I think kind of continues in the SNL tradition of casting people you wouldn’t expect to do things that are funny or crazy. It’s certainly something I always enjoy.
You got to share a scene with Academy Award-winner Susan Sarandon, who played your mom. How was that?
Andy Samberg: It was great. I had worked with Susan once before when we did the “Motherlover” [music] video. So it was her second time playing my mother, which was kind of a funny coincidence. She’s obviously an incredible actor, she’s also just a cool ass person. She’s like always talking about her ping pong club that she’s opened. She knows what’s going on in every walk of cool stuff. So she’s fun to hang out with. She came in, she killed her part, she was really funny and was so game to do it. It was such a cool idea to have her and her daughter [Eva Amurri Martino] play the same character because they look so similar.
There’s also a scene where you get roughed up by James Caan aka Sonny Corleone from The Godfather. He plays a very hot-headed priest.
Andy Samberg: I mean James Caan is just a powerhouse. That dude is terrifying [laughs]. Playing a scene where he’s taking swings at you is not necessarily a fun day. He’s absolutely ripped. He’d tear me in half if we actually got into it [laughs]. He really committed hard to it and it was funny. All of his speaking in tongues and stuff made me laugh so hard.
You’ll be starring with Sandler in a couple more films, including Grown Ups 2. Will you guys be related in that one as well?
Andy Samberg: Well, Sandler’s not in the scene I’m in, so I don’t have to be related to him. But we had a fun time. That should be a scene that people enjoy. It’s very crazy. The only way around it, I’ll tell you is what we actually already did, which was make an animated movie where he plays Dracula and I play a human. You don’t have to look at our faces. You just hear our voices, so we don’t have to be related. It’s Hotel Transylvania. The animation’s really great. I’ve seen some scenes. [It's with] the guy who did Samurai Jack, which is an old animated series that I always loved.
That’s My Boy is currently playing in theaters everywhere!