“Blended” marks the third collaboration between stars Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, following their successful onscreen pairings in the hit romantic comedies “The Wedding Singer” and “50 First Dates.” After a disastrous blind date, single parents Lauren (Barrymore) and Jim (Sandler) agree on only one thing: they never want to see each other again. But when they each sign up separately for a fabulous family vacation with their kids, they are all stuck sharing a suite at a luxurious African safari resort for a week. The film also stars Kevin Nealon, Terry Crews, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Joel McHale, Jessica Lowe, and Bella Thorne.
At the film’s recent press day, Sandler and Barrymore talked about how their screen chemistry has evolved over the past 16 years as they’ve done three films together, their longstanding friendship and respect for each other, how their real life experiences with parenthood inspired their performances, the collaborative directing process with Frank Coraci and how they improvised in a lot of the scenes, how the music was used to complement the humor in the story, and what they consider the toughest part of being a parent.
Here’s what they had to say:
QUESTION: I’m intrigued by your screen chemistry together. How has it changed over the 16 years you’ve done these three films together?
ADAM SANDLER: It’s only gotten hornier. (Laughs) (to Drew Barrymore) What do you think?
DREW BARRYMORE: I would sum it up with respect. If you respect somebody, you can make it in love or in lust or in a happy or a funny or a sad [film]. For me, it all stems from respect. I’ve always respected him. I love him. He makes us laugh in the world. Aside from what we do together, I was so in love with the things that he did, from “Saturday Night Live,” to “Happy Gilmore,” to “Billy Madison” and everything else. I love this person so much. He is so amazing, and I just loved him and appreciated him.
SANDLER: You better print all of that, too. I know you only take what you want but that sounds better altogether.
BARRYMORE: He has such a gift. When it comes down to that one on one where it’s just us two alone on a playing field doing our thing, it’s like total respect. It’s like giddy, giddy respect.
SANDLER: Thank you! I love Drew. I’ve known her a long time. In all three movies, we’ve had the pleasure of falling in love. With the first two, I faked it, but this one, I really did. Will you marry me? (Laughs)
BARRYMORE: You fake it good.
SANDLER: Thank you. It’s my pleasure.
Q: With “The Wedding Singer,” then “50 First Dates,” and now this, we see a progression of your characters from young folks to single parents. How has your relationship changed over the years? Do you guys stay in touch between films? Will there be an “On Golden Pond” version later?
BARRYMORE: It was filmed on Lake Winnipesuakee.
SANDLER: Yeah, that’s right. We loved that lake. Yeah, I could see doing an “On Golden Pond” kind of movie. That would be great, but maybe with a few more jokes in there. We both have new things going on in our lives since “The Wedding Singer” to “50 First Dates” to now. We both have families, but we’ve always stayed in touch. We’ve always been good friends and we check in on each other as much as possible. No matter what’s going on, I’m always pulling for Drew, and I feel the same about her. Whenever I’m doing something, I know she’s pulling for me. We just have a nice friendship.
BARRYMORE: And then, every eight years, I call him up and say, “We need to meet for lunch.” And then I say, “It’s time.”
SANDLER: It’s time to do a movie. And then I look. Our producer, Mike Karz, found this script that was good for us. I said, “You got something for Kevin Nealon in there?” and he said, “Yes.” And so, we all signed up.
Q: Drew, you’re not a single mom, but I’m sure you relate to some of the challenges. How did your real-life experiences inspire your performance in this film?
BARRYMORE: With this film, what really got me about reading the script, and what gets me when I watch the movie, is I want funny because I need to laugh, but I need heart and I need to be emotional. I want to laugh and I want to cry. It’s like they’re twins, laughter and crying. When these two people quietly talk about how they just want to be good parents, and what is going to make their kids happy, and how are they going to function in this world, that just gets me. It made me cry in the script, and it makes me cry in the movie, especially when these kids say, “I need things.” When Bella and I did our scene together, I couldn’t get through it without crying. I really couldn’t because she’s talking to me, and this is a girl in this movie who needs a mom. I can relate to that. I had times in my life where I really needed a mom. I am now a mom. I’m going to be there for my kids. Moms are my Achilles heel emotionally speaking. It was one of my favorite scenes to do in the movie because the mother is that emotional figure for all of us.
Q: What are some of your challenges as a mom right now?
BARRYMORE: You’re like, “That’s good. How’s the baby? What’s going on?” (Laughs) It’s great. I couldn’t be better. I couldn’t fake it. I’m really happy. Everything is just as good as it could possibly be.
Q: Both of you are now parents in real life. What kind of new discoveries did you make about each other while playing parents in this movie?
SANDLER: (to Drew) What did you discover?
BARRYMORE: Well, you’re a good, patient, loving, awesome parent, much like your character in the movie. That’s always what I’ve taken away from it.
SANDLER: You too. You’re all about your kids. I know that. Can I say something great that happened from having kids in this movie? When we were casting it, my kids loved Bella. I would have no idea who she was by the way if I didn’t have my two children. Hence, we watch the Disney Channel a lot and saw Bella over and over, and I’d say, “Who is that kid? She’s good. She’s funny.” And then, when we were casting this movie, I remember saying, “Hey, what’s that kid’s name from ‘Shake It Up?’” And my kids would go, “Bella Thorne! Bella Thorne!” And I thought, “Yeah, yeah, I’ve gotta get her!” I used Bella to get closer with my kids. That felt right. And then I taught Drew to do the same in the future.
BARRYMORE: Oh, I’m crazier about Bella Thorne than words could ever express. I’m like the biggest Bella Thorne fan.
Q: Did director Frank Coraci allow you to improvise a lot on this?
BARRYMORE: We got to improvise a lot, but from my experience with Adam and Frank on “The Wedding Singer” and now this, there was a great script that you go into it with. There are some movies where it’s a little looser and then you do stuff there, or it’s very strict and they won’t let you stray from the script. Adam and Frank’s movies are very well thought out and then you also get to play. You have the comfort of knowing that you’re getting the goods, but then you have the awesome, scary, excitement feeling of having to come up with fun stuff to do on the day and play and give them options in editing. It’s fun. The night before, too, you get weird ideas and you get to try them. It’s just awesome.
SANDLER: The actors improvised a lot of great jokes. Everyone in the cast did.
BARRYMORE: Being on the set, you see everyone improvising, like the scene with Wendy when we’re in the kitchen where it’s setting up that we’re going to buy the Africa trip from her, or my scene with Bella where I say we should go to the salon and get a makeover. We did so many versions, and then when I saw the film for the first time, I wondered what they were going to pick, and they always picked my favorite stuff, or what I thought was really the best, or what was clearly, objectively the best. That’s also really cool because there are some films where you’re like, “There was good stuff in there that did not end up in the movie.” This is the opposite. It’s like all the gold came up.
Q: The characters are committed to the idea that 99% of their life is for their kids, and the remaining 1% is for them. How have you dealt with that in your own lives? Was it an easy transition? Do you have any funny stories?
SANDLER: Definitely. Last night, my wife and I did Mother’s Day. We had a great time with the family. We were with them all day long and had the best time. The kids were falling asleep. My wife said, “Hey, maybe when they fall asleep, we’ll go see a movie.” I said, “Yeah, that’s a good idea.” But they weren’t falling asleep and then I was like, “Alright, I think we’ve got about 20 more minutes for them to fall asleep or we’re not going to do this.” And the next thing I know, my wife is sleeping. (Laugh) One kid is sleeping with my wife and I’m up with the other one. I was like, “Yeah, we’re not going to the movies.”
BARRYMORE: I had a similar night. Will and I were like, “Yeah, we should do something,” because I’ve been pregnant for three years. I’ve been sitting on the couch in sweatpants, eating takeout, and watching a lot of TV, and that makes me happy. I’ve eaten whatever I’ve wanted and I had a three-year love affair with food. Last night I was like, “We should do something special because it’s Mother’s Day.” Mother’s Day means more to me than my birthday or Valentine’s Day or Christmas or any other day of the year. This is it. So it was sweatpants, “Game of Thrones,” takeout, because we were just too tired after a full day with Olive and taking her around and having a special day for her.
SANDLER: The difference when you have kids is [what happens when] someone wants to meet you out after 9:30 at night. It is pathetic. It’s like this giant sacrifice. Do I do this? Do I stay out until 10:30pm and be angry all day tomorrow?
BARRYMORE: As my sister-in-law says, “9:30pm? I’m not living in Barcelona. I need dinner at 6:00pm.” I never got that until now. Four years ago, when I met her, I was like, “That’s kind of extreme. I love Barcelona!” (Laughs) Now, I’m so mad when somebody suggests an 8:00pm reservation, because then that means that we’re not eating until 8:30 or 9:00pm. That means we’re not even… Forget it! No!
Q: For every moment in the movie there was music which made it funny. Whose idea was that?
SANDLER: We wrote a lot, but Frank got all these great songs from Africa for the movie. He found the coolest notes. Tim Herlihy (the producer) came up with “It’s the End of the World.”
BARRYMORE: And then it’s like for one character and then it’s not for another character and how it moves around. I always love the Hooters payoff. You think it’s something and then all of a sudden you’re welling up. I loved how the comedy surprised me as I was reading it the first time. This is smart. Things are changing around and they’re not going where I expected, and the music cue was one of my favorite jokes.
Q: Adam, what’s it like when you take your kids to school? Are you the coolest dad?
SANDLER: I’m a dad at the same school that Nealon’s a dad, so yes, I am the coolest. (Laughs) Gotcha Nealon! They love me at that school. “Hey kids, how are you? Alright! Okay, baby!” No, we do alright. It’s fun to show up. The best thing about our school is that you can go to lunch with your kids. You just show up with an In-N-Out Burger and your kid loves you more. That night, when they’re mad at you, you go, “But remember, the In-N-Out today?”
Q: What’s the toughest part of being a parent?
SANDLER: Just the hours are tough. And also, I didn’t know that every moment a kid is upset would rattle me so much. When your kid is upset, you’re rocked until they’re not upset. Even when they’re not upset, you just go, “Oh my God, I hope that doesn’t happen down the line.” You’re just always nervous because you want your kid to be happy. Now I understand why my folks were so much about, “Be nice to your sister. Make sure everybody in the family is okay.” They were trying to protect us. It’s like, “Look, the world is going to throw stuff at you that can hurt you. Just make sure your family has got your back.” I get that a little more.