Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!
Yes, Adam Sandler was supposed to play The Bear Jew in Quentin Tarantino's 'Inglourious Basterds'
Just imagine how insane this would have been!
Out of Hollywood's many "What If...?" scenarios, one of the most tantalizing visuals is that of Adam Sandler beating a Nazi officer to death with a baseball bat in war-torn Europe. All these years later, writer-director Quentin Tarantino has finally confirmed that he wrote the Inglourious Basterds character known as "The Bear Jew" with Sandler specifically in mind for the role. What's more: Sandler was completely on board with the pitch since the production on 2000's Little Nicky, in which Tarantino played a blind priest.
"Oh, man — I get to f—in' beat up Nazis with a bat?! F—! This is gonna be f—ing awesome! I can't f—ing wait!" an excited Sandler purportedly said at the time, according to Tarantino, who recently appeared alongside Judd Apatow on an episode of Bill Maher's Club Random podcast. "He was telling every Jewish guy, 'I'm gonna f—in' play this guy who beats up Nazis with a f—in' bat!'
Unfortunately, the scheduling just didn't work out, as Sandler had already singed on to make Apatow's Funny People, which was shooting at the exact same time as Basterds (both movies opened within weeks of each other over the summer of 2009). Horror maven and Tarantino's good friend, Eli Roth, ended up wielding the bat as Sgt. Donny Donowitz.
"All the good Jews were doing Funny People!" Tarantino joked. "Seth Rogen? I'm killing Hitler with baseball bats and there's no good Jews available! David Krumholtz? Nobody! All the good Jews were all wrapped up! I'm doing the Jewish male fantasy ... I want David Krumholtz, I get Sam Levine [who played Hirschberg]! That's where I am."
Despite his little tirade, Tarantino harbors no ill will against Apatow and stated that if he had to lose Sandler to another production, he's glad it was Funny People. "Obviously, he should have done yours because of the whole thing of it," the filmmaker continued. "You start with the f—ing video cassette of you guys as kids, alright?"
The Bear Jew had a much larger role in the original screenplay, which flashes back to Donny's hometown of Boston just before he ships out to fight overseas. He purchases the baseball bat and goes around the neighborhood, asking Jewish friends and neighbors to inscribe the weapon with the names of their loved ones in Europe currently suffering under the oppressive and murderous Nazi regime. If you look closely at the prop in the movie, you'll see a number of names, including Anne Frank's, scratched into the surface of the bat.
An alternate history take on the World War II men-on-a-mission genre, Inglourious Basterds follows a group of Jewish commandos (led by Brad Pitt's Lt. Aldo Raine) who are dropped deep behind enemy lines with one purpose and one purpose only: kill as many Nazis as humanly possible. The film ends with the Basterds bringing a swift end to the global conflict by blowing up Hitler and the rest of the German High Command at a French film premiere. Christoph Waltz, who played the cunning and ruthless Hans Landa of the SS, took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
Need more Tarantino action in your life? Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 are currently streaming on Peacock. If you're in the mood for a bit of Sandler's work — both comedic and/or dramatic — Just Go with It and Uncut Gems are also available on the service.