The raunchy and outrageous comedy That’s My Boy tells the story of Donny Berger (Adam Sandler), an aimless loser who knocked up his smoking hot teacher when he was a teenager, and was left to raise their love child even though he was completely unprepared to be a parent. Now, 30 years later, Todd (Andy Samberg) is all grown up and a successful Wall Street executive who hasn’t seen his father in years. But, with Donny owing tens of thousands to the IRS, he figures that tracking down his son will not only give him the chance to ask for the money he needs to stay out of jail, but to also finally bond with his son.
At the film’s press day, actor Andy Samberg spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about how he came to be playing the son of Adam Sandler and Susan Sarandon, how much of the comedy was on the page when he initially read it, and keeping the heart with all of the R-rated humor. He also talked about the news that he has officially left Saturday Night Live after seven seasons, what that conversation with executive producer Lorne Michaels was like, his hopes to continue contributing to the show, where he’d like to go next with his career, making another Lonely Island album, how uncomfortable his tight white shorts were for Grown Ups 2, who he’s playing in The To Do List, how excited he is for the release of the animated feature Hotel Transylvania, and the cupcakes at the Magnolia Bakery in New York. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
Collider: How did you come to be playing Adam Sandler’s son?
ANDY SAMBERG: My agent was like, “Hey, just so you know, Happy Madison has a script where Sandler would have a son that’s 15 years younger than him,” and I was like, “That sounds like it could be me!” They sent me the script and I read it and I was really into it, but they didn’t know if they were doing it yet. And then, some time went by and I got another call that said, “Hey, I think they’re thinking about doing that.” So, I called Sandler just to be like, “Hey, if you’re doing it, I would love to do it!,” and he was like, “Oh, you’re nice.” It started coming together, and I called him again just to be like, “If you do it, I would love to do it!” And then, finally, he was like, “All right, we’re going to do it, and you’ll be the guy.” I did a secret dance in my bedroom.
How much of this was on the page when you initially read it?
SAMBERG: When Sandler does a movie, he’s got his own writing skills that he brings to it, and he also has his team of buddies. When you hear Sandler and Tim Herlihy and Robert Smigel and Allen Covert all got in a room and rewrote it, you’re like, “Oh, boy, there’s going to be a lot more jokes!” There’s definitely a version where it came back and I was like, “Oh, wow, it’s definitely crazier,” in a way that I was very happy about. And with my character, they were like, “We wanted to give you more crazy stuff to do. You get beat up a lot more.” I was psyched! I will say, though, that a lot of great stuff was already in it. The original draft by David Caspe was really strong and just a really good idea for a movie. When I read it, I was like, “Oh, I haven’t seen that movie yet!” It was an interesting father-son dynamic that I hadn’t really seen before, and it seemed to lend itself to comedy well.
And then, David Wain and Ken Marino did a draft, and they’re two of the funniest people out there, in my opinion. There was already a bunch of weird, funny stuff in it. I was like, “Anything I can do to do this movie, just let me know.” And then, once Sandler takes something on, anybody who wants to pitch a joke out, he’s open ears. Whatever makes everyone laugh, he’s like, “Let’s try that!” They let me mess around with my part. Every day on set, I was allowed to come in and pitch ideas, and he’d ask people, “What have you got for this part? It feels like it’s not funny enough.” It was a constant work-in-progress, just trying to top jokes and make scenes work and make sure it all connected.
Because he’s become known for doing family films, especially recently, do you think people will be surprised with just how raunchy this is?
SAMBERG: Yeah. [Will Forte] said, “I think there’s so much funny stuff people aren’t seeing [in the commercials].” That’s certainly part of what we’re trying to let people know with the press that we’re doing. This is actually a really hardcore R, funny movie that’s for people who like comedy. When friends are like, “So, what’s the movie like?,” I’m like, “Well, do you remember his old albums where he could be really dirty and yelling at people? It’s kind of like that.” And they all go, “Oh, shit, I really want to see it!” Marketing is always a tricky thing with a rated R movie. Sometimes people just get what it is and they want to come see it, and sometimes you have to explain it more. This is a movie where, when I watched it, I was laughing really hard, the whole time. I wish there was some way for me to beam that into people’s heads, that I know would enjoy it, to let them know that Sandler does do a lot of different kinds of movies, but that this is that kind where it’s going for big laughs.
Did you have any moments on set where you thought, “How did I end up having Adam Sandler and Susan Sarandon playing my parents”?
SAMBERG: It’s the second time Susan Sarandon has played my mother because she played my mom in “Mother Lover” with Justin [Timberlake]. That one was less shocking. It was pretty awesome! There are so many people in the movie. James Caan is in the movie. I was like, “I can’t believe I’m doing a fight scene with James Caan, right now. He’s a legend!” And Tony Orlando is another guy where you’re just like, “He’s Tony Orlando!” Everyone knows his name. And Vanilla Ice as my Uncle Vanny was so awesome! The cast was crazy on the movie. It was really cool. It felt very much like people come out for Sandler. He asks and they do. When Nicole Kidman was in Just Go With It, you were like, “Holy shit, Nicole Kidman is just crushing it. She’s super funny!” A lot of people just like the opportunity to cut loose and show another side of what they do. I’ve definitely been lucky to have that experience on a lot of the digital shorts, and working at SNL. When you prove to people that you’ll protect them and make them come across in a funny way, it opens that door and gets really interesting. I feel like Sandler is really good at that.
Was it important for you that the film always keep the heart there, as well?
SAMBERG: For sure. Comedy always works better when you’re tracking the story and you care about the characters. That’s why there’s a lot of movies where there’s not a ton of jokes, but you get huge laughs because there’s a moment of relief. This, obviously, is going for a lot of jokes, but when I watched it, I was really happy that there is actually a little bit of a real exploration of what that relationship dynamic would be and how it’s a screwed up situation. It’s sad. He thought he was a good dad, and no one in my character’s position would have been happy about the way he was raised. You sympathize with both sides of it and it’s a painful and, at times, I hope, sweet thing to see them reconnect. I’m always a sucker for a father-son story.
What made now the right time for you to leave Saturday Night Live, after seven seasons on the show?
SAMBERG: It’s been very intense. I didn’t want to do it before the season ended because I hadn’t talked to Lorne [Michaels]. I have so much respect and admiration for him, and I’m so grateful to him. I didn’t want to do anything without really discussing it with him first. It was a crazy mad-dash, finishing the season. It was really intense. Mick Jagger’s show was crazy. The 100th short we did the week before was so much work. There wasn’t a lot of time to stop and contemplate things. I was pretty sure that I was gonna go. The end of Lazy Sunday was that for me. It was a nice way of saying goodbye, in my way, in the shorts, which was the way that people viewed me the most on the show. And then, the season did end and Kristen [Wiig] obviously officially left in a very, very big, dramatic and beautiful way, and I was really happy for her. I just thought about it a lot and decided that I knew I wasn’t coming back and, rather than having to dodge the question for a huge press cycle, it would be better to just say it and rip off the band-aid and move on. But, I’ve definitely been really broken up about it. It’s been a super-emotional time. It was not an easy decision. I’ll always be grateful that I got to do it. It was my dream job, since I was eight. Even now, talking to you, I feel conflicted about it, a little bit.
What was it like to have that conversation with Lorne Michaels? Is he open to having you still contribute digital shorts and things like that?
SAMBERG: It was sad. I was very emotional. He’s been through it so many times, and he’s not going to sweat you. He’s like, “If that’s what you want to do, that’s what you’re going to do. If not, you’re welcome not to.” It’s hard to convey to him, in a way he hasn’t heard before, how much he’s changed your life. Everyone he picks to be on that show, he changes your life, forever. Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but I have that gratitude towards him, forever now. He gave me the career that I wanted, just with the snap of his fingers. I’m forever indebted to him. It was really cool to get to work for him and to work there, and I hope we still get to go back and do stuff. If he’s open to it, I’d still love to do shorts, every now and again. I know Lonely Island wants to make another album, so there will be videos for that, and stuff like that. We’ll see how it goes. We’ll see what happens.
Have you thought about what you want to do from here now? Are you writing anything for yourself, or are you thinking about directing, at all?
SAMBERG: Not directing, but I definitely want to get more movies going, if possible. There’s a script at Happy Madison that Jorma [Taccone] and I are trying to put together, but it’s not far enough along that we’re announcing anything. I have a few things like that, where I’m trying to get movies up and running that we have creative say in. Hopefully, I’ll also be available to be cast in other stuff. Hopefully, we’ll make another album. I don’t know. I feel like now it’s just something where ideas will come up as they come up and we’ll write them as we write them, and I’ll get offers or I won’t. It’s exciting and scary.
How was it to wear those tight white shorts for Grown Ups 2?
SAMBERG: I’ve worn less than that on camera, but they were very uncomfortable. I’m not going to lie to you, all of us that day were very uncomfortable. They were very tight and smashing us in the right place.
There just isn’t any right way to wear those, is there?
SAMBERG: No, certainly not if you’re an adult man. They were less forgiving than one might prefer.
How would you describe your role in The To Do List?
SAMBERG: It’s fun. I play a ‘90s grunge singer that Aubrey Plaza’s character runs into, and her and her friends hang out with me and my band for a night.
Did you enjoy voicing a character for Hotel Transylvania? Is it challenging for you to bring a character to life with only your voice, when you love doing such physical comedy, or do you enjoy doing both?
SAMBERG: I like both. If I had to choose one, I’d rather be on-camera, but I do really like doing animated movies. I like watching animated movies, and I always have. That’s something I didn’t let go of, from when I was a kid. It’s always exciting for me to get to do that. Animated movies are so rarely bad. Also, it’s cool now because I have a bunch of nieces and a nephew, and friends with kids. It’s cool to know that you’re doing something that people of all ages can watch and enjoy, even though my bread and butter is a little dirtier. It’s cool to just be involved in something that’s that big and joyous and meant to make people feel happy. I’ve been really lucky, too. I loved working on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. I thought that movie was awesome. My friends, Phil [Lord] and Chris [Miller], directed it. And, what I’ve seen so far of Hotel Transylvania has been really good, so I’m excited for it.
What is your favorite New York cupcake place, and do you still get free cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery?
SAMBERG: Yeah, well, we said the lines are too long in the final Lazy Sunday. We went back on it. Although, I will say that, when we shot the first Lazy Sunday, Magnolia was not very cool about it. They tried to confiscate our footage and they never acknowledged that it hooked them up with a lot of business. And then, in the last year or so, they got a PR department and sent us a lot of nice banana puddings and cupcakes and stuff. There are nice people at Magnolia, so if you’re willing to wait in line, we don’t totally hate Magnolia. The cupcakes are good.