How Being Fired From SNL Changed Adam Sandler’s Career (& Made Him A Star)

How Being Fired From SNL Changed Adam Sandler’s Career (& Made Him A Star)


In 1995, Adam Sandler was unceremoniously fired from the cast of Saturday Night Live, but he ended up a huge movie star not long afterward.

In 1995, Adam Sandler was unceremoniously fired from the cast of Saturday Night Live, but he ended up a huge movie star not long afterward. Today, Sandler is known as one of the most popular comedians and comic actors of all time, having racked up an amazing five billion dollars worldwide over the course of his long movie career. Sandler has also been a big asset for Netflix, as while the service pays him millions to make original films for them, the resulting products are some of the most viewed on the streaming service.

That’s not to say that everyone loves Sandler, or his work. Many feel he chooses his projects not with quality in mind, but what he thinks might be the most fun to make, and which friends of his will end up co-starring in them alongside him. Adam Sandler‘s loyal legion of fans would argue there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and that Sandler’s career as a whole is underrated, but a good number of Sandler’s detractors tend to wish he would take on more complex roles, because when he does – such as in Uncut Gems or Punch-Drunk Love – he displays his acting prowess in a way that isn’t possible in lighter comedies.

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Either way, Sandler seems quite happy to keep doing what he’s doing, and plenty of viewers are happy to go along for the ride. That ride of course began during Sandler’s Saturday Night Live stint, which first made him famous, and introduced the world to unforgettable characters like Opera Man and Canteen Boy, as well as Sandler’s amusing song stylings. That was until Sandler got fired from SNL. In the end, though, being let go was likely a blessing in disguise, even if it hurt at the time.

Back in 1995, most news outlets reported the story as Sandler and his pal Chris Farley choosing to leave Saturday Night Live in order to pursue film careers, but that’s only partly true. As Sandler would publicly reveal years later, he and Farley were basically told by their agents that if they didn’t leave SNL, NBC was going to fire them. Neither wanted to go, and SNL creator Lorne Michaels didn’t want them to either, but NBC brass at the time were not fans of either performer, and Michaels didn’t have leverage due to a downturn in SNL‘s ratings. It’s likely Sandler and Chris Farley were given the chance to quit rather than be formally fired due to their relationship with Michaels. The fact that they were reported to have left the show and not been axed definitely helped the perception they were stars on the rise.

While Sandler’s SNL departure came a few months after the success of Billy Madison, he followed that up with a string of hits over the next few years, including Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy, The Wedding Singer, and Big Daddy. Before long, Sandler was a titan of the big screen, even creating his own shared Sandlerverse of connected films, and it’s quite possible that if he were to have still been part of SNL, he may not have had the time available – or even the inclination – to lead all those projects. Plus, Adam Sandler has admitted that when he was let go, it gave him a bit of a chip on his shoulder, and it’s quite likely that drive to prove NBC wrong helped push him to greater heights. There likely were still some hurt feelings for a while, as Sandler didn’t return to SNL to host until 2019 – although it’s clear the actor is grateful to Saturday Night Live for launching his career, regardless of how his time on the show ended.

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