Adam Sandler is reacting to the surprise Oscar buzz for his dramatic performance in the Safdie brothers’ thriller, Uncut Gems.
The actor, 53, best known for his comedies including Billy Madison (1995), 50 First Dates (2004) and his recent Netflix hit, Murder Mystery, now stars as Howard Ratner, a New York City jeweler who takes life-threatening risks.
The A24 film premiered to strong reviews at the Telluride Film Festival in August, and on Thursday had its New York premiere at the New York Film Festival where it drew more praise, with many industry observers saying Sandler has a shot at next year’s Best Actor Oscar.
“I think that’s nice and sweet and I’m happy that people like the movie,” Sandler told reporters Thursday of the reception to his performance. “I try not to jump into that thought process just because that really wasn’t the goal. My goal was these guys wrote a great movie and they’re incredible filmmakers and I just wanted to do as good of a job as I could for them.”
The movie follows go-getter Ratner (Sandler), as he puts his family, career and own life on the line in a series of bets, some of which include working with NBA star, Kevin Garnett and artist the Weeknd, who stars as himself in the film.
Frozen’s Idina Menzel stars as Sandler’s wife, Dinah, and the movie’s supporting cast includes Lakeith Stanfield, Judd Hirsch, and Julia Fox.
Uncut Gems marks a change of pace for the comedian, who’s appeared in a number of Netflix comedies over the past few years, aside from dramatic turns in Punch-Drunk Love (2002) and The Meyerowitz Stories (2017).
Addressing the challenge of trying something different, Sandler said, “I actually kind of consciously thought about how not to do something that I know I’ve done before in the past.”
“When I do my comedies, I work hard at those, they mean a lot to me,” he added. “And when I did this movie, I put the same time in as I always do. I just thought of different things.”
Uncut Gems is set to open in theaters on Dec. 13.