Adam Sandler first caught Hollywood’s attention as part of the ensemble on Saturday Night Live. Rising to superstar status through his many box office blockbusters, Sandler is apparently still down to earth despite his fame. Landing a part in the 2008 film You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, this former child star insists that Sandler’s “unique character warrants testimony.”
Barry Livingston played ‘Gray Kleibolt’ in Adam Sandler’s 2008 film
In his 2011 book, The Importance of Being Ernie: From My Three Sons to Mad Men, a Hollywood Survivor Tells All, Barry Livingston shared his many acting experiences after rising to fame as Ernie Douglas on My Three Sons from 1963 to 1972. Following a chance meeting with the Uncut Gems star in front of his Happy Madison production offices, Livingston discovered Sandler’s love of the vintage sitcom. Showing his fandom status, Sandler soon granted the actor easy access to auditions in his upcoming movies.
“I got another request to come read for a role in Adam Sandler’s next film, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan,” Livingston wrote. “I’d auditioned for every one of his films since we met four years earlier. Sandler was really proving himself to be a huge and loyal fan of My Three Sons.”
Though Livingston had tried out for several of Sandler’s films, none of the parts were suited for him. He hoped this would be his big break.
“My audition was for the character of Gray Kleibolt, a corporate toady out to destroy the Zohan,” Livingston shared. “I prepped hard for the interview… the reading with the casting director, Randi Hiller, went well, and I kept my fingers crossed.”
Adam Sandler put Barry Livingston at ease during a table reading
When Livingston got a call back to do a table read for the role, he was nervous on how to play the part.
“A table read is just that: a simple recitation of the script for the director and writer to hear the words, no acting allowed,” the My Three Sons alum explained. “The day of the table read arrived, and I went to a huge conference room at Sony Studios. It was packed with actors, writers, studio executives, wives, and girlfriends. I found an open chair, took a breath, and reminded myself: Listen and react, listen and react, keep it simple.”
While Livingston was trying to calm his nerves, he got an unexpected warm welcome from the film’s star.
“A hand tapped me on the shoulder, snapping me out of my meditation,” he recalled. “I turned to see Sandler standing behind me, grinning. ‘Hey, Barry, I told you I’d get you something good! I told you, didn’t I?’ he said. I practically wept.”
Barry Livingston raved of Adam Sandler’s kindness
As Livingston was about to leave after the table read, Sandler surprised him with gracious sendoff.
“I got up to leave and spied Sandler across the room, surrounded by his ‘people,’” the former child actor remarked. “I was hoping for a little eye contact, but I got a helluva lot more than that. Sandler waved and yelled, ‘Good job, Barry! Thanks, man!’ It’s always a good thing to have an industry titan complimenting you in front of the studio executives.”
Livingston went on to describe the many instances he witnessed Sandler’s kindness and generosity, and praised the A-lister for being so down to earth.
“I hate to get slavish singing the praises of Sandler, but his unique character warrants testimony,” the My Three Sons star wrote. “I worked on Zohan for four weeks, and I can tell you that there isn’t an ounce of pretension or bullsh*t in him. If he saw a production assistant hunting for a place to sit at lunch, he’d make room for him at his table. If he was lighting up an expensive Havana cigar and saw you watching him, he’d offer you one.”
“I casually mentioned that my son Spencer had a band called the Alternates,” Livingston continued. “Months after this conversation, I took my son to the Happy Madison Christmas party. When Adam arrived, he picked us out of the crowd, rushed over, stuck out his hand to my son, and said, ‘You must be Spencer. How’s the band doing?’ Again, I held back a tear. What a mensch.”
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