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The Untold Truth Of Big Daddy

"The Wedding Singer" was the first Adam Sandler movie to see him play a more grounded character and less of a living cartoon, and it was his most successful film — that is, until "The Waterboy" followed later that same year and completely trounced "The Wedding Singer" at the box office. It seemed to suggest that audiences didn't mind believable guy Sandler, but much preferred goofy caricature Sandler. So when it was time for his fifth film with that cast and crew, he had a tough choice to make.

Ultimately, he chose a mostly grounded character with only some slight early-Sandler-manchild-esque tendencies with "Big Daddy," and it proved to be a winning formula indeed. He had once again maintained the tradition of outgrossing his previous film, only by a little bit domestically but by a considerable margin worldwide. To be sure, "Big Daddy" was arguably Sandler's most mature film to date — ironic, since it was one where he had a child as his main co-star. The movie also had more "outsider" talent than any previous Adam Sandler movie had, bringing in the likes of Joey Lauren Adams, Leslie Mann, Kristy Swanson, and Jon Stewart alongside the usual suspects of Sandler's old pals. 

The result was the least Adam Sandler-y Adam Sandler movie to that point, and there are reasons for that — which will be explored here along with various other fascinated tidbits about the 1999 comedy.

Big Daddy Was Co-Written By The Creator of Psych

Up to this point, every major Adam Sandler-fronted film had at least been co-written by Tim Herlihy, with Sandler himself sometimes sharing on screenwriting duties. Either way, they had always brainstormed the concept together and built out the movie (and its jokes) from there. That all changed with "Big Daddy," as Herlihy recalled to Esquire, which had the duo make a movie that began with someone else's story for the first time ever. It started with a script titled "Guy Gets Kid" written by Steve Franks, which was being considered by none other than Chris Farley prior to his 1997 death. Sony Pictures, who owned the script, passed it along to Sandler and asked him and his team to mold it as they saw fit. It's not entirely clear how much of the original script remained in the final version, but Franks still got the "story by" credit and a screenwriting co-credit alongside Sandler and Herlihy.

As for Franks, in addition to whatever money he likely still had come his way after the success of "Big Daddy," he ended up being just fine professionally. Seven years later, he would create the TV series "Psych" where he also served as executive producer and wrote many of the episodes himself. Since the series ended, it has spawned three TV movies, all of which were directed and co-written by Franks as well. 

A Young Pete Davidson Auditioned For A Role

It's hard to imagine anyone else in the role of Julian besides twins Cole and Dylan Sprouse. They do an incredible job of playing the kind of kid that even someone like Sonny could instantly fall in love with, but also be ready to pull his hair out over. They had previously had a main role on the TV series "Grace Under Fire," and soon after "Big Daddy" would catapult to superstardom playing twins Zach and Cody Martin in the "Suite Life" franchise on the Disney Channel. 

But the Sprouse twins weren't the only ones up for it. When Sandler finally hosted "Saturday Night Live" in 2019 for the first time since his firing from the show 25 years prior, current cast member Pete Davidson joined Sandler for his monologue. Davidson also revealed on Instagram (via Us) that his mom had taken him to audition for "Big Daddy." Considering that Davidson only would've been about 5 at the time, it stands to reason that he was auditioning for Julian. It's definitely fascinating to imagine an alternate universe where a young Pete Davidson was been a child star and then did the rounds on the Disney Channel circuit for a few years. 

Adam Sandler Used Elements Of His Own Childhood For The Story

Although neither Adam Sandler nor Tim Herlihy had kids yet when they got to retooling "Guy Gets Kid" into "Big Daddy," they were both obviously kids once, and so they instead came at the dynamic between Sonny and Julian from that angle. Sandler explained in an interview with ScreenSlam that he was the type of kid who always did the opposite of whatever he was told just on principle, and decided that Sonny had the same upbringing. And it was that upbringing, of what Sonny saw as too many rules, that led him to the idea of letting Julian do whatever he wanted and to let him decide the kind of person he wanted to be.

Sandler also said in that interview that Sonny is inspired by his father, in that his dad would always try to make him laugh to get him through tough situations, and Sonny definitely uses humor to aid in teaching Julian life lessons at various points in the film. It would be interesting to see how much different the movie would've been if it were made now, with both writers now being fathers and having children of their own.

Leslie Mann Still Has The Bra Inserts She Wore In The Movie

Other than her tendency to get far too emotional when the good surprise is wasted on someone else, and just an overall dislike of Sonny, the running gag of Leslie Mann's "Big Daddy" character, Corinne, is that she was a former Hooters waitress. For the part, Mann had to wear a plastic pads in her bra to increase her bust size.

Mann later admitted (per Esquire) that she not only noticed men being much nicer to her whenever she had bigger breasts, but she found herself naturally becoming more flirty than she normally would be. On top of that, Mann told Wired that she insisted she get to keep her plastic pads when production on "Big Daddy" wrapped, and has spent the last 20-odd years continuing to powder them and maintain them so that they won't disintegrate, a process she does about once a year.

It Narrowly Missed Out On Being The First Happy Madison Production

Once Adam Sandler decided to become more involved in the producing of his own films, it didn't take long before he realized that he needed to start his own production company. Appropriately named after the two films that put him on the map, Happy Madison Productions was founded in 1999 and has since co-distributed almost every Adam Sandler movie — even including some of his more serious fare, like 2007's "Reign Over Me." In addition, the company has also helped to put out many of the films made by his friends as well as others, including "Joe Dirt," "Grandma's Boy," "The House Bunny," and "Paul Blart: Mall Cop."

Happy Madison Productions was formed a little too late for "Big Daddy" to have been its first film, although just barely. Instead, another 1999 comedy, the Rob Schneider vehicle "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo," has the distinction of being the very first Happy Madison release. Unfortunately, the first Adam Sandler-led movie that Happy Madison produced was the bomb "Little Nicky," which wasn't a great start for the company. However, Happy Madison would soon do right by Sandler with "Mr. Deeds," "Anger Management," and "50 First Dates," which were all hits. 

The Director Has Two Different Cameos From Two Different Decades

Director cameos have been a thing for as long as movies have, with horror master Alfred Hitchcock almost making a game of challenging people to find him within his own films. Director Dennis Dugan continued that tradition right off the bat with his movie directing career, appearing in his directorial film debut, "Problem Child." He joined the Sandlerverse when he directed "Happy Gilmore," where he also played Pro Golf Tour commissioner Doug Thompson. 

When he returned to direct "Big Daddy," he upped the ante of director cameos by putting himself in there twice — though one was a bit more subtle than the other. The more obvious of his two appearances is as the cranky guy who refuses to open the door for Julian's trick or treating. But the other cameo comes by way of the clip from the TV show "Columbo" that is being watched during the film. If you look closely, behind Peter Falk in the brief scene is none other than Dennis Dugan, who had appeared on the show in 1976 in his early days as an actor. 

It Was The First Movie Role For Adam Sandler's Future Wife

One common sight in most Adam Sandler movies is that of wife Jackie Sandler (née Titone), who has played parts of varying sizes in most of his films since "Big Daddy." In fact, when she joined the cast of "Big Daddy" as the waitress who serves Julian a root beer at the bar, she hadn't met Sandler yet. At the time, she was just an aspiring actor and "Big Daddy" would be her first ever screen credit. Sandler would later claim on Instagram (via Daily Mail) that it was love at first sight, saying "we locked eyes and fell deep."

The pair were officially a couple before the end of the "Big Daddy" shoot and would tie the knot in 2003 at a ceremony attended by famous friends like Jennifer Aniston, Rodney Dangerfield, and Dustin Hoffman, along with many of the usual Sandler cohorts. The couple have two daughters together, Sadie and Sunny, who have appeared in many of their dad's movies, including sizeable roles in 2020's Netflix comedy "Hubie Halloween."

Adam Sandler Protected Cole Sprouse During A Hotel Fire Scare

It's not always clear how adult actors are going to handle having young children on set, but it's clear that Adam Sandler enjoyed working with the Sprouse twins, and also felt protective of them. In a 2019 interview with Variety, Cole Sprouse recalled that the fire alarm when off in the hotel that the cast and crew were staying. Sprouse said that Sandler put the young actor up and his shoulders and carried him down a whopping 45 flights of stairs just to ensure that he made it outside safely. Seeing as how the boys were between 5- and 6-years-old when "Big Daddy" was in production, that was indeed no small task for Sandler.

However, Sprouse also admitted that during that same interview that he and his brother learned "every single bad word" while making "Big Daddy" — though clearly on the set and not during filming, as the movie is rated PG-13 — and that they "swore like sailors" when they returned to school after they finished the film. Oops.

Longtime Adam Sandler Collaborator Tim Herlihy Plays The Kangaroo

In addition to co-writing many of Adam Sandler's movies, Tim Herlihy has also appeared in a number of them, typically in small parts. For instance, Herlihy played an architect in "Billy Madison," a bartender in "The Wedding Singer," and a fire fighter in "Mr. Deeds" — each time with only a few lines, if that. But his most memorable cameo by far is the one that is the most difficult to pick out, and that's because he's dressed as a giant kangaroo.

Yes, Herlihy plays the kangaroo in the obnoxious "Kangaroo Song" video that Julian is obsessed with in "Big Daddy." Not only is that him in the costume, but that's him singing the song as well — it appears on the "Big Daddy" soundtrack and the song is credited to him. He certainly plays the part of a Barney the Dinosaur-type character extremely well. 

It Remains Adam Sandler's Highest-Grossing Live-Action Movie

Many of Adam Sandler's movies have broken the $100 million mark, even without taking international tallies into consideration. However, live action comedies generally can't match the box office success of animated ones — and to that end, it should come as no surprise that his two highest-grossing movies of all time are the second and third installments in the "Hotel Transylvania" series. 

But number three? That belongs to "Big Daddy," still his highest-grossing live-action movie and his third highest-grossing movie overall in the U.S. It's not necessarily that none of his live-action movies since then have been hits, because plenty of them have. It's more that "Big Daddy" just did that well, all the more impressive considering that 1999 was a year absolutely jam-packed with other blockbusters like "The Matrix," "American Pie," "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me," and "The Phantom Menace."

Alec Baldwin's Acting Teacher Played Sid In A Rare Film Appearance

Sonny getting dumped by his girlfriend, Vanessa (Kristy Swanson), sets the plot of "Big Daddy" in motion. She says that Sonny needs to start acting more mature. Her desire for a man with a plan ends up being taken to the extreme when it's later discovered that she traded Sonny for Sid, a 60-something man who she believes has the stability she is looking for. Of course, she comes to find out that his stable career is being a fry cook at Hooters, where Vanessa is also waitressing by the end of the film.

Sid might have seemed like some random actor that was picked out of a casting call for elderly men, but Geoffrey Horne is actually an industry veteran whose career dates back to the 1950s. He's had roles in movies like "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and in episodes of the original runs of "The Twilight Zone" and "The Outer Limits." He's also a respected theater director and acting coach, and counts Alec Baldwin among his students, with the two remaining friends to this day. "Big Daddy" was his first screen role since 1985, and would also be his last. It's not entirely clear why he made a rare film appearance to play Sid, but the still-active Horne has since returned to directing and teaching.

Scuba Steve Isn't Real, But He's Based On A Classic Toy

Julian's mother made sure he had his "Kangaroo Song" tape and his Scuba Steve action figure on his trip. Scuba Steve became something of a security blanket for Julian, accompanying him everywhere he went and being clutched as he fell asleep. On a day when Julian is being particularly defiant, Sonny uses Julian's love of Scuba Steve to his advantage by dressing up as the character's supposed father and telling Julian that Scuba Steve won't take a bath unless Julian takes one with him.

Sadly, Scuba Steve isn't real. But he's based on toys from Adam Sandler's childhood — the name is similar to Diver Dan, a Mattel toy that was popular in the '70s and '80s; and the look is based more on those wind up plastic scuba diver toys that you put in the bath and their legs kicked to make them swim.