Adam Sandler (Hustle): Netflix film discussion led by Drew Barrymore

Call it their “51st Date.” drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler staged a “love-in” reunion Wednesday night at the Director’s Guild Theater in midtown Manhattan. An enthusiastic audience had just seen Sandler’s “Hustle.” Netflix filled the room shrewdly. I didn’t recognize a lot of academy voters at this SAG screening. These were fans.

Barrymore was in full Oprah mode. “You got nominated for a People’s Choice Award today! so did Queen Latifah! And so did the movie! I think it’s the first of many,” she said with a grin. Sandler was self-deprecating, of course. He’s Sandler. He heaped praise on his frequent cost of it. But she stayed on point. If this was a theme for her daily chat fest, it would be: He’s made serious movies but it’s time to take him seriously. “This is the most confident performance I’ve seen of you,” she said. “It’s not comedic. There’s no ‘Zohan’ in this movie.” Big laugh. “You have continued over four decades to do extraordinary things. You’ve earned all the recognition in the world and everybody wants to give it to you. And you have earned it. And you deserve it. And it’s a film like this that puts it over the top. And it’s the entire body of your work that it sits on top of.” wow. She likes this guy.

Sandler admits that “Hustle” was a sweet spot for him as an actor. “Lee Strasberg said sometimes—I’m not quoting perfectly—sometimes a good actor is somebody who’s not the smartest guy in the room. Because they don’t have so many things to make them sensitive or have thoughts. They just go and do the work.”

Sandler also talked about “Uncut Gems” and working with the Safdie Brothers. “I loved those guys. But I didn’t know anything about the diamond business,” which was quite different from the substantial basketball experience he brought to “Hustle.” “I started playing basketball when I was four. I grew up around the game. I know the locker room, the court. So I was comfortable in this role. I got to meet players, coaches, scouts. I learned a lot more.” He added that the scout-turned-coach he plays in the film reminded him of his own father. “We named him Stanley after my dad. He had a beard.”

And when Barrymore said she wouldn’t watch a sporting event from now on without thinking about the people who discover and nurture talent, Sandler turned it back on his “stage crush.” “It’s like Spielberg finding you when you were a youngster. That was a big one for all of us. For the whole world.” Applause break.

Adam Sandler is in Award Season mode. Right after this he hopped in a car and headed downtown to the Metrograph for another Q&A with Jimmy Fallon. He says people on the street always yell encouraging things. But will academy members hear them? Barrymore seems a lot more focused on Sandler’s awards future. “I think you’ve earned everything,” she says. And she says hardly a day goes by that people don’t ask her what he’s like. “He’s everything you’d wish he’d be.” Audience swoons. Now Sandler looks embarrassed. gotta go Can’t keep Fallon waiting.

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