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Adam Sandler’s New Career Highlight: Uncut Gems

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The newest crime thriller from writer/director duo Josh and Benny Safdie, Uncut Gems opens in limited release this weekend. Uncut Gems has been building buzz since its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival in August and has already received nominations from the Critics’ Choice Awards and the Independent Spirit Awards. Much of the praise for the film has been directed towards the lead actor – a Method Acting trained alum of The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute® – Adam Sandler. In the film, Sandler plays Howard Ratner, a New York jeweler who gets into trouble as he balances business, family and enemies.

“I went to NYU. I studied acting at Strasberg and all that stuff. I was never doing comedy monologues in school. I was always doing “The Indian Wants the Bronx.”

– Adam Sandler, on finding the confidence to switch to drama

Very few names in Hollywood can boast a career as varied as Adam Sandler’s. Originally hired as a writer for Saturday Night Live in 1990, the self-proclaimed “Sandman” quickly became a favorite on camera and that popularity made Sandler a household name. He transitioned into film and has created an empire with his production company Happy Madison Productions. Altogether, his films have grossed over $3 billion dollars worldwide. 

Uncut Gems

Uncut Gems is the latest outlier in Sandler’s filmography. Known to general audiences as the quintessential funnyman, Sandler has a habit of stretching his serious side every few years. From his Golden Globe nominated performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love to his work on Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerwitz Stories (New and Selected), Sandler tackles roles that stretch the definition of a typical “Adam Sandler character”. 

“Sandler has an under-appreciated ability to connect with the uncomfortable aspects of his more fleshed out characters, embarrassingly so at times, and his latest, arguably greatest, delve into drama pushes this to a whole new level.”

– Benjamin Lee, The Guardian

Sandler’s portrayal of a smarmy jeweler in Uncut Gems is the latest in a line of acclaimed projects. This year, both his hosting stint on SNL and his Netflix standup special 100% Fresh garnered Emmy nominations respectively for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special. Now with Gems, Sandler is receiving some of the best praise in his career: Entertainment Weekly’s Darren Franich calls the performance “Revelatory…  Sandler’s never been better, really, balancing speedwalking desperation and fast-talking salesmanship with sorrow and glee,” while Peter Travers from Rolling Stone declares “Adam Sandler’s Wild Ride Should Net the Actor an Oscar.” Sandler’s long list of citations include nominations from the Critics’ Choice Awards, Gotham Awards, Independent Spirit Awards and a win for the National Board of Review’s Best Actor award.

Uncut Gems is now in limited release and will expand nationwide on December 25th.

Alumni News written by NYU Tisch at Strasberg alumnus Christian Masinsin.

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