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Adam Sandler's Real-Life Connection To His Motivational Speech In Hustle

If you've been paying attention to the career of Adam Sandler of late, you know the legendary funnyman has been on a bit of a roll. You also know that roll has, in large part, resulted from Sandler eschewing purely comedic roles for those that also front his dramatic chops. And if films like "The Meyerowitz Stories" and "Uncut Gems" have taught viewers anything, it's that those chops are meatier than most of us likely realized.

They were well on display in Sandler's most recent Netflix venture, the 2022 sports drama "Hustle." Produced alongside NBA legend LeBron James, the film pits Sandler as Stanley Sugarman, a down-and-out basketball scout who, upon discovering a talented street ball player named Bo Cruz (Juancho Hernangomez) in Spain, eyes his path back to NBA glory. That path proves more difficult than expected, largely because Bo has trouble adapting his raw streetball style to the far more organized NBA game.

At one point in the film, Bo even appears close to simply giving up on his NBA dreams. And if not for an impassioned inspirational speech from Sandler's Sugarman, he may well have. That speech is legitimately moving as Sandler is brimming with internalized emotion throughout. And it turns out much of that emotion was very real for Sandler, who claims he borrowed from his own past to help bolster its dramatic impact.

Adam Sandler drew on his own struggles as a young standup comedian for that Hustle speech

If you're familiar with the inspirational speech Adam Sandler's character gives in "Hustle," you know the crux of the sentiment is that one has to be obsessive in their love of a thing to become great at it, with Stanley Sugarman boldly posting, "Obsession's gonna beat talent every time." As Sandler noted during his appearance on the "Happy Sad Confused" podcast, he drew on his own struggles on the standup comedy scene to inform the moment and even helped write the speech himself.

"That speech was fun to say," Sandler told host Josh Horowitz, adding, "we wrote it together, me and the director and the writer, Will [Fedders] — and the director is Jeremiah Zagar. And it connected a lot to when I was becoming a comedian." The star then regaled Horowitz with tales about struggling with his standup routine as a teen, stating bluntly, "And I was terrible for a long time; nobody laughed." The actor also said he was so certain comedy was his future he devoted himself completely to mastering the form.

In fact, Sandler claims he became obsessive in his passion for comedy, and that theme became central to his "Hustle" speech. "But I did nothing but think about," he noted, continuing, "the speech about being obsessed, I was just connecting with that speech because I was just so obsessed about getting over being scared on stage and trying to get a crowd to like what I was saying. And that's all I thought about, so it connected with me." It connected with "Hustle" audiences, too, many of whom eye that speech as one of the film's best moments.