Adam Sandler, Adam Shankman, Russell Brand, Keri Russell and Matt Lopez Interview BEDTIME STORIES

     December 21, 2008

Written by Heather Huntington

Amidst last weekend’s festival of junkets was Bedtime Stories, a novel pairing of Adam Sandler and Disney for a children’s story about the underdog son of a failed hotelier who finds his life changing when the Bedtime Stories he tells his niece and nephew start coming true. The mixture of Sandler’s standard shtick with Disney kiddie gloss is an unusual one, but I would say one that surprisingly worked. That is to say, if you’re a kid, it turns out you’ll find Adam Sandler’s old SNL voices amusing. If you’re an adult, you could find a cheaper way to nap for 90 minutes. But, since Bedtime Stories (brilliantly) opens the day after Christmas, there are probably worse things you can do than watch the kids laugh at this while they recover from their gift opening high.

For his part, Sandler seemed to genuinely enjoy doing this movie. As anyone who has seen Reign Over Me or Punch Drunk Love can attest, Sandler is actually quite talented at drama. But as anyone who has done those junkets can attest, they seem to take a lot out of him. Gone was the introverted, almost miserable Sandler from last year’s Reign Over Me press day, replaced this time by the happy, outgoing, jokey Sandler most of his movies would lead you to expect. Whatever you think of the movie itself, it’s clear he enjoyed the hell out of doing it. And getting to see racy British comic riff with him wasn’t so bad, either.

Bedtime Stories opens wide December 25th, 2008.

Adam Sandler: Shankman’s voice is sore everybody. Be careful.

ADAM SHANKMAN: I got a little bit, I’ve got a little bit of juice. You put a mic in front of this Jew, are you kidding me? So Sandler made a movie for kids and moms. Can you fucking believe it?

Adam Sandler: Oh my God.

Keri Russell: Oh no!

QUESTION: Well this is a perfect family movie for the holidays and Christmas. So, I was just wondering, what are your holiday plans, and particularly in this economy, what sort of gifts are you giving the kids?

Adam Sandler: Shankman, you go first.

SHANKMAN: I am going to be with my family and for the first year, my family is picking names and we are only doing one gift each to the person who we pick. I might slide a little something extra to my sister who is also my partner, my producing partner. Yeah, it’s affected us. My father really wanted us to do that, but it’s mostly about spending time together. Honestly.

SANDLER: My baby’s one month, Sunny. So I got her a BB gun. I have another kid so I have to get her something. Maybe a German helmet.

Russell Brand: Hello mate. What? What am I going to get people for Christmas? Well, me mum, I dunno what I’ll get her. Oh no, you’ve put me—ugh—a house? Maybe get her a house. Because at the moment she’s homeless, and I feel really guilty about that because after she raised me and let me live in her womb for those nine months, I feel like I could really give something back. So I’ll probably either get a womb or a house.

Keri Russell: Any good gifts for Christmas?

SANDLER: You do have a child.

Keri Russell: Oh, I do? I keep forgetting. We actually said the same thing. We told the grandparents, we’re having all the parents at my house this Christmas and we said, ‘No one go crazy. One gift for the kid,’ which translates to like, five. They don’t understand that. My gift is being home, it’s been so nice to be in our house.

QUESTION: Adam, because you’re a dad, is Bedtime Stories a personal movie, something that was inspired by wanting to tell your kids stories on the big screen? And also, you always seem to be very successfully playing the underdog. Is that a role you’re really comfortable with ‘cuz you’re not an underdog in real life, obviously.

Adam Sandler: I am, too. You should see breakfast at my house. No, old Lopez over here wrote a great script. I read it, must say the thing that stood out the most was the gumball scene. I do have kids now. I’ve always wanted to do a family movie. I’ve always loved, every Sunday night we’d watch a Disney movie. Kurt Russell—I was a big fan of Kurt Russell growing up and I always wanted to be the modern day Kurt Russell.

SHANKMAN: And you are. You live in his old house.

Adam Sandler: I live in his old house!

SHANKMAN: It’s true.

Adam Sandler: I have his old muscles. He has a very Semitic look. No, but I loved Lopez’s script, I thought it was sweet, and I knew Shankman was there to bring a great visual creative look. He has great style, he’s a great man. A lot of times my movies the kids end up seeing them anyways, but some of their mothers yell at me, tell me I have corrupted their child, influenced them to pee on walls. So I wanted to make sure that I did one movie in my career that mothers hugged me for. This could be it.

QUESTION: Which of these characters, which genre of the fantasies did you most enjoy doing? Did you always want to be a cowboy or a spaceman or…?

SHANKMAN: I’m dying to hear this one.

Adam Sandler: Let’s see, what did I enjoy? I look great in a cowboy hat. I think I was fantastic in the leather pants in the space scene. I really look good in the gladiator costume. I’m just guessing I look good from the two reactions: Keri Russell would always go, ‘Oh my God!’ and Shankman would always go, ‘Oh my God!’

QUESTION: But which was the most fun?

Adam Sandler: What do you think Shankman? I don’t remember.

SHANKMAN: I’ll tell you, you were most.—well, in space you were hung up all the time, so I don’t think you were happy with that. He was on a rig, so I don’t think that was your happiest moment. He was in a chariot most of the time during the thing—

Adam Sandler: I had my broken ankle the whole time—

SHANKMAN: His ankle was broken for two months of the shoot. We never stopped shooting.


Adam Sandler: I was playing basketball with my nephew and I broke my ankle. That was on a Sunday.

SHANKMAN: Yeah. And I got the call.

Adam Sandler: Shankman got the call that night and wasn’t happy.

SHANKMAN: No. I said, ‘What do you mean he broke his ankle?’ And they were like, ‘More details later.’ Conveniently, the thing we were shooting the next day was him sitting and telling the kids the stories. We had to shoot that for a week, so we figured out during that week what we could and could not do. For example, during the space sequence, those boots that he’s wearing, that was just a mock up of his broken ankle boot. We did two of them. We just made two ankle cast boots for that. In the chariot, he couldn’t—I play a game during the movie called ‘Can Walk, Can’t Walk’ where in each shot I’m like, ‘He can walk there. Oh no, he couldn’t walk there. He couldn’t walk there.’ But we kept playing, and you couldn’t tell, right? Tadaa. See, movie magic.

QUESTION: You didn’t bother doing it with the crutches?


Adam Sandler: No no no. I can handle pain. A lot of times when I would finish a scene and Shankman would scream, ‘Cut,’ I would in exhaustion fall into Russell’s arms.

SHANKMAN: It was so beautiful.

QUESTION: Adam, it was really cool that you brought your whole Happy Madison crew in on this different kind of movie for you.

Adam Sandler: Yeah. We all, I think [Rob] Schneider always wanted to make a family movie. [Allen] Colvert has kids now. All my friends all have kids now. We were excited to be in something—seriously–that we could play in the house and feel comfortable with our kids seeing. I think that was it. Anybody who had a kid was welcome to be in the movie.

QUESTION: Can I ask Adam and Russell what it was like working with each of the kids? It was just brilliant after a stressful day, me and my 10-year-old and her 7-year-old friend, we just were hysterical. I just want to know what it was like. Did it come naturally? Was it easy? Do you crack each other up?

SANDLER: Awesome. That’s great.

Russell Brand: Why is your 10-year-old having stressful days? As a child, don’t, in England there are labor laws. Children must not work. We used to have chimney sweeps, but even that’s been banned now. We have the dirtiest flues in Europe. I loved working with Adam. It was an education for me—how to do film acting. I ain’t done many films before. Now I learned loads of stuff: sort of controlling things things, how to improvise within sensible parameters, how to not swear—which was difficult for me, of course. It was a wonderful education, yeah. And I laugh a lot. And also, sort of, sometimes gaze yearningly at him, longing for the moment when eventually his crutches would break and he would fall again into my arms. It was lovely. It was a bit like Treasure Island in a way, with all the piracy, crutches, and whatnot. I found it, yeah, comedic and cinematic education. I learned an awful lot over the whole process.

Adam Sandler: You did. He did. And people love Russell in the movie. I gotta say, I met Russell, I don’t know, I think it’s like five years ago, right? Or something like that?

Russell Brand: You’ve got no concept of time.

Adam Sandler: Three years? Ten years ago.

Russell Brand: It was like two, I think. Two years ago. Two years ago.

Adam Sandler: Your hair got long.

Russell Brand: Judged by the size of your children.

Adam Sandler: (laughs) I didn’t have a child when I met you!

Russell Brand: Honestly!

Adam Sandler: No, it’s at least four. I swear to God.

Russell Brand: How long ago was it? Four years ago. We’re behind on our career plan. You guys need to work on it.

Adam Sandler: Anyways, when I met the young Russell Brand I thought the guy was hilarious. I was on his MTV show, and I went over to England with like four, five of my friends and we all talked about Russell after, ‘That kid was incredible. So funny, so smart.’ I was a guest on his show, I didn’t have to say much, Russell did most of the talking. He was very cordial, like would ask me a question, I wouldn’t come up with anything too funny, Russell would button it with a huge laugh, the girls would gasp how great he was. I told Russell, there’s two times I was on the show—with *NSync one time, no one looked at me. I was on the show with Russell in England and no one looked at me. It was just girls staring at Russell, ‘My God, I want that man.’ So anyways, we had this great part here for the room service guy who was my best friend and kind of loose with the kids. He was more comfortable with the children than me. We mentioned Russell doing it, we got excited and Russell was cool enough to say yes. When we screened the movie the first time, to my dismay they do those scores at the end of the movie, and who was your favorite character? I looked at Skeeter Bronson, I was like, ‘What did I get? Oooh, 91, I’ll take that!’ And I looked at old Russell’s got 96? How dare this man?

SHANKMAN: I mean, seriously, who says ‘Disney’ more than Russell Brand?

QUESTION: Keri this your return for Disney after being a Mouseketeer. How was that? And did you earn your ears back?

Keri Russell: I hope so! I don’t know. It’s fun. I mean, it’s a Disney movie, but I think that’s what’s cool about this one—it’s a Disney movie and it’s what Disney does best, but it has the Sandler factor in it, which sort of keeps it like a current, modern kind of Disney movie.

QUESTION: How old were you when you were a Musketeer?

Keri Russell: It is a ‘Mouse-keteer’ by the way. (laughs) I was 15. Fifteen to 17.

QUESTION: Adam, what kind of bedtime stories do you tell your kids? Do you make them up or do you read books to them?

Adam Sandler: I do read. I read in the morning a lot to little Sadie. I’m not great at bedtime stories. Bedtime stories are supposed to put the kid to sleep, my kid gets riled up and then my wife has to come in and go, ‘All right! Get out of the room.’ But most of my stories, it’s similar to the movie. She gives me a subject and we go from there. Every subject she brings up has to do with food. So, it’s like, ‘Waffles.’ ‘Okay, there was a giant waffle.’ ‘Pancakes.’ ‘And he met a blanket made out of pancakes.’ ‘Syrup.’ ‘And then syrup, the river made of syrup. They had to cross it.’ That’s actually it, I swear to God. And then at the end of every story she’s like, ‘Cookies.’

QUESTION: Is Matzo Ball in the movie? Is that your dog?

Adam Sandler: That’s not Matzo Ball. Poor Matzo Ball passed away, but this is a bad thing. I have a new dog named Baboo, and I showed the movie to Sadie who’s 2 1/2 . I brought home the movie, the DVD, and she watched an hour of Bedtime Stories, and it was going well and then she started saying, ‘Later, later.’ And I was like, ‘No. Let’s finish it. Let’s finish this thing.’ ‘Later, later’. And I said, ‘Come on, we’re almost done.’ And she said, ‘Baboo eat daddy’s movie.’ And I was like, ‘All right.’ Not a good review of the movie.

QUESTION: Adam, I just want to follow up. Was there a favorite bedtime story for you growing up?

Adam Sandler: The I Think I Can story was big in my life, I guess. My sister was going to dental school when I was into that story and I guess I used to say that to her all the time. She’d be crying how much studying she had and my parents would put me on the phone with her, my older sister, and I’d be talking about the little engine that could and I think I can, I think I can, and she said that helped her at least smile going through the stuff. So, see all the joy I’ve been bringing people through the years? How about a big hand for me?

QUESTION: I would like to know about the script.

Adam Sandler: Matty Lopez.

QUESTION: I would like to know if it changed a lot? Was there a lot of improvisation? What did you feel when you finally saw the movie?

Matt Lopez: I was totally thrilled to see the movie. It never in my wildest dreams did I think it could be that cool. The biggest change from my original script, and it enhances the movie so much, is my original script is pretty much the same story with the kids and the sister, but the bedtime stories all took place in medieval times. It was a parallel story that ran through.

Adam Sandler: That was [Jack] Giarraputo, our producer, he said ‘Maybe we should go to different places.’

Matt Lopez: Yeah. My last draft I started to head in that direction, and then they just took it into space, and the chariot. I think that adds such a cool layer of wish fulfillment to kids. It’s very exciting to see.

SHANKMAN: Well, it was fun for me because I got to audition my next project. I was like, ‘Do I want to make a space movie? Do I want to make a western? Do I want to make a gladiator movie?’ So I’ll be making a gladiator film next, thank you very much.

QUESTION: Keri, did you do any of your own stunts for this movie?

Keri Russell: We did do some stunts. We horseback rode a little.

Adam Sandler: Are you referring to the kissing scene?

SHANKMAN: That was you on the swing thing.

Keri Russell: I was—yes. Yeah. We did some of our stuff.

Adam Sandler: She’s an athlete, Keri Russell.

Keri Russell: This is true. This is true. Yes, and I did do my own rollerblading. No, I don’t know.

SHANKMAN: And she actually turned into a crow.

Keri Russell: Yes. It’s one of my many, many talents. Yeah, there were a lot of physical—but it was mostly me and Adam wearing crazy helmets going, ‘Get on the back and scream a lot.’ ‘What are we doing?’ ‘I don’t know!’ ‘Aaahhhh!’

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QUESTION: Do you see doing more family style films?

SANDLER: Absolutely. I had a great time. I loved it. Me and Keri, we’re both new parents. It’s bizarre. When the kids are laughing in the audience, I tear up, I’m so happy I did a nice thing. I think I did a good thing. I’m so happy to hear kids laugh. I’m so happy it gives a place for parents to take their kids. I keep thinking about grandmas because of my mother. My mother will sometimes take my kid to a movie, and I’m just like, ‘Oh, that’s going to be cool, grandma having a nice time, or grandpa, with their grandkid.’ I did have a great time doing it, I would love to do it again.

QUESTION: Shankman, I was amazed at your family friendly restraint. Will we see some of the other side on the outtakes on the DVD?

SHANKMAN: This is the sad part: because the kids were around there’s not really an other side. There’s some bloopers, but even with these two, they’re family friendly bloopers. People were pretty aware. There were always parents around and kids around. Those kids were in most of the scenes. And I’m sitting ere going, ‘My restraint? What have I don’t that’s so dirty. The Pacifier? Yeah, that’s filthy. Cheaper by the Dozen II? Yeah, that’s good porn!’ I like to think that there’s stuff for the parents in there. Parents when we tested and scored, parents loved the movie and that was deeply satisfying for me. That was the goal for us, it was like, ‘Let’s go and do family,’ which is great. Sadly there’s not too much other stuff in there.

QUESTION: Russell, I was just wondering what drew you to the film specifically? And what we can expect form you moving forward? Will we see you in more US films?

Russell Brand: Yeah! I’m doing some more US films. I wanted to do it with Adam. Like, he said, ‘Do you want to do this film?’ I said, ‘Yeah, all right.’ Be like, I’ll learn stuff and it will be a laugh. Then, I thought, as I spent more time learning about it, I got to meet other people, like Adam Shankman was involved, I found out all his movies make loads of money. Now, if people associate you with the idea of loads of money, they in turn will give some of that money to you. Then, for example, you see how they are only allowed to buy their family one Christmas present, I used to be poor, I’ve loads of money now. My family’s getting loads of things for Christmas. I’m giving the stuff away! I’m buying things for people I don’t even know. I’m like Willy Wonka. More manipulative. Imagine if Willy Wonka had a devious goal.

QUESTION: Adam, now that you’re a father of two, what influence is it going to have on your movie direction? You’re a father, actor, producer, and a writer. Which is the biggest challenge?

SHANKMAN: I like that question.

Adam Sandler: I remember everything you said. First of all, good question. Let’s see. What the hell was the—

SHANKMAN: The future. The future. Is it going to affect your decision making in the future?

Adam Sandler: I thought so. When I was shooting it, I was like, ‘This feels good. I come home at night. I see my kids. I feel like I’m a good person.’ Then Judd Apatow, he’s a longtime friend of mine, he wrote a movie and asked me to be in it. I was like, ‘Okay.’ I’ve been shooting it and I come home feeling so filthy and so sad. I can’t meet eyes with my kids sometimes. I’m like, ‘Oy, God.’ So no, I’m not making every decision due to my children. I hope they never see these other movies I’m doing, but I do want to do more family friendly movies. I do feel good doing them, but it’s not going to be a way of life.

SHANKMAN: And you’re a really good actor and I do hope he does more dramas. I’m just saying.

Adam Sandler: Thank you, Shank-man.

SHANKMAN: The other one is what’s your most difficult role?

Adam Sandler: None of them are difficult. I have fun doing them all. It’s not like I’m a producer who I go over budget every day, I have numbers to run. I produce, I hang out, I help try to get the best stuff on the screen, that’s all I do. When I write, I sit down with my friends, come up with ideas. When I act, it’s the same thing. We try to do it as a team, everybody’s helping everybody, nothing’s too tough.

QUESTION: Keri, what made you want to say yes to this movie?

Keri Russell: I’m still trying to figure that out. No, I was very pregnant at the time and Adam Sandler called me and said, ‘I have a kid now. I want to make a movie my kid can see. And you have a kid. I think it would be fun. You should come do it.’

Adam Sandler: That’s right. It was something like that.

Keri Russell: It was. And I was like, ‘Okay.’

Adam Sandler: Well, I told you you were great in Waitress first. Me and my wife saw Waitress and we were really blown away by old Keri.

Keri Russell: Jackie. It was really Jackie who cast me.

Adam Sandler: When Jackie says to me, ‘I like that girl,’ I’m like, ‘Oh, good I can use her.’

Keri Russell: No, it just sounded like fun. I’m so glad I said yes, it was so fun. It was so great and there were kids all around.

Adam Sandler: You were like the mother on the set. She was nice to the two kids the whole time. ‘Cuz I run out of stuff to say after about—I try to make the kids laugh and I get a couple laughs and they’re staring at me for more and I’m like, ‘Really? Go talk to Keri Russell over there.’

QUESTION: But the two of you, the chemistry’s so good. Was there improvisation like there was with Russell?

Adam Sandler: Yeah, we did a little bit, but we felt comfortable with each other. I swear to God, it helps. Her husband is cool as hell, she’s cool with my wife. It makes it light and fun. I think Keri’s funny, I just like hanging out with her.

Keri Russell: It was good, yeah. Good time.

QUESTION: Adam, this feels like a very comfortable role for you. You are very relaxed in it. I’m wondering, what when you’re acting now makes you nervous and scared when you’re coming to the set. Are those things you seek out?

Adam Sandler: Apatow’s movie’s scaring me.

QUESTION: What’s it called?

Adam Sandler: Funny People. I’m very sick in the movie. I find out I’m dying and I have to do a lot of stuff with that. I come to work going, ‘Oh man, this is going to be a rough day.’ And I have to think about stuff that I don’t like to think about. But I swear to God, doing Bedtime Stories, that was my dream when I was young and I became a comedian. I didn’t come out here to do that other stuff, and Reign Over Me, I can’t believe I got to do that movie, but that wasn’t on my mind when I as a kid going, ‘I want to be a movie star.’ I wanted to be Eddie Murphy. That’s all I wanted to do. I get these other opportunities to do stuff and I just try my best, but I’m very comfortable, Bedtime Stories I show up on the set and I’m happy as can be.

QUESTION: Adam, your gibberish has improved since Billy Madison. Can you talk about growing your gibberish skills?

Adam Sandler: You know what? There’s much more confidence in it now. Back then I was like, ‘What are they going to think about that?’ Now I’m like, ‘They’ll think what they think. I’m doing it.’

QUESTION: Did you find it harder to work clean? You’re working with an arm tied behind your back, basically.

Adam Sandler: It wasn’t that bad. It felt good. I swear to you. Did you feel it was difficult?

Russell Brand: No, it’s a laugh. It’s all right. Sometimes parameters I think create better work because otherwise you have sort of go-to places comedically. I really think when you’re not using that kind of facility, you do different stuff. And plus it’s not that mad because in the real world I have friends with kids and stuff, and like if I’m hanging out with my friends who’ve got kids, I don’t think, ‘I’ll blow their minds with some coprophilia jokes!’ You know? You do stuff that’s appropriate. Although a lot of children do eat poo.

QUESTION: Keri, having a newborn, was it hard embarking on a big budget movie?

Keri Russell: Like I was saying—that was one of the cool things about this movie is Adam had kids, Covert had kids, Jack had kids, everyone had kids there so it was really fun. One of the babies would stop by, and everyone would stop and play with the kids. It really was like that. It made it really nice.

Adam Sandler: If you were with us three years before that you would have hated us.

Keri Russell: I know!

Adam Sandler: You would have been like, ‘Put your baby down! We’re shooting!’

Keri Russell: It really was like that. Elephants would be on the set one day and everyone brought their kids and took pictures with the elephants. And, you know, I was dressed as a mermaid one day, and all the kids took pictures with me. It was just that kind of set. I had a picture with the mermaid, as well. Very different motivations.

QUESTION: Everyone’s talking about how your comedy style changed to do a kids’ movie, but I really didn’t see that. To me: It’s kind of he same thing: works for frat guys, works for eight year olds.

Adam Sandler: I’m with you on that. Thank you. We wanted to make sure the guys who show up to my movies have a good time. It wasn’t that much of a—

SHANKMAN: Only thing different is you don’t swear or hit anybody.

Adam Sandler: That’s true.

SHANKMAN: That’s the only thing that’s different.

Keri Russell: There’s some lovely ladies in there for the frat guys. Our lovely Teresa Palmer. The body! The body’s in that!

Adam Sandler: Keri Russell thinks Teresa’s body is pretty spectacular.

Keri Russell: Come on! Why not?

Adam Sandler: I haven’t seen it yet. I don’t look that way. Russell?

Russell Brand: Oh! There’s a fire! There’s a fire! We should all definitely go!

QUESTION: This is for Adam and anyone else who could care to answer it. If there is one thing you want the audience to take away from the film when they leave, what would it be?

Russell Brand: Their litter!

SHANKMAN: I personally would hope that especially in these—you are such an idiot! (laughing). I hope that they take away a couple of things. First of all: the sense that magic can happen when family is together, A, because that’s sort of the trigger of it all. And B, the importance of imagination because we are now living in difficult times where the old stuff hasn’t been working and it’s going to take a lot of imagination to move us forward in life—I mean globally. So this notion that spending time together, being creative, using your imagination, there are no limits, and there are happy endings and can be. Because that’s what a happy ending is, it’s hope. So I want that spirit to be with the audience as they’re leaving. Not literally in your brain, but hopefully that’s the feeling you take with it and hopefully it will inspire parents to spend more time with their kids and really talk and don’t let them sit on their blackberrys and all of that because we need that now.

QUESTION: How was the relationship with the children?

Adam Sandler: How was I? They were just great kids.

SHANKMAN: They were really sweet kids. He got along actually a lot better than I thought you would. Working with kids, especially as much as we did, it can be hard because their attention spans are dododododo. When you have certain kid hours, only a certain amount of day, you need them focused. But these kids were pretty hard core. Laura especially was like, zzt.

Adam Sandler: They were focused, funny, nice, sweet kids. They liked me and then they fell in love with Russell. Actually I was their go-to guy for a while, and then Russell’s part started up a month into the shoot and they slowly left me and fell in love with Russell.

QUESTION: Matt, where did this story come from for you? What do you think was the thing that’s most true to what you saw when you were writing the story?

Matt Lopez: For me, also I have two little girls, and for me what I loved about it is sort of the power of storytelling. It was just about the fun of storytelling. What I was really captivated by and I think brings a lot of punch to the movie is the notion that if you’ve ever tried to tell a four-year-old a bedtime story, they tend to take the stories in whatever direction they feel like taking it. You could be telling them a story about a knight and then they say, ‘Tonight I think the knight should be a princess.’ I thought if there was a guy who actually had to live through these stories, I had a lot of fun with the notion that he thinks he’s in control of them and for a while he sort of is in control of them, but not really.

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