Why Howie In Uncut Gems 'Had To Be' Adam Sandler

When you think of modern film award season snubs, "Uncut Gems" is likely one of the first films to cross your mind. Besides, Benny and Josh Safdie's crime thriller stood out for its breakneck pacing and Adam Sandler's transformative lead performance. While the actor had impressed in recent films like "The Meyerowitz Stories," it was his portrayal of jeweler Howard "Howie" Ratner that was considered his true comeback after a lengthy string of flops. Needless to say, he's gotten some pretty good roles ever since, with him even being floated around for awards contention once again for "Hustle."

To the Safdies, there was no other option to play Howie other than Sandler. In an interview with Complex, the duo said that the role needed someone who could still be rooted for despite their flaws or the increasingly difficult situations he gets put in. Going off of that, they only had one person in mind.

"It was always Adam," said Benny. "It only works if you root for him, and that's why it had to be Adam."

You can't really argue with that. While there was a period of time when his films and performances were not well received, many fans still believed that Sandler and his comedic chops were deserving of something greater. After all, he had already proved himself as a more-than-capable actor in productions like "The Wedding Singer" and "Punch-Drunk Love." The role of Howie, and "Uncut Gems" as a whole, was just the thing we needed.

Commitment to the craft

The film's script, co-written by the Safdies and longtime collaborator Ronald Bronstein, proved to be one that compelled a captivating performance from Sandler on its own. However, according to the directors and other cast members, it was his dedication to the project that truly made him the right fit for Howie. While never diving into method acting, Benny told Complex that Sandler would constantly have his character on his mind, even when his acting persona dropped.

"Even during downtime on set when Adam would be out of character," he said, "he would then just spend that time thinking about, like, why Howard did the things he did in character that day."

It wasn't just the introspection and analysis of Howie that Sandler was seemingly interested in. According to Josh Safdie, the actor did plenty of research on the world of jewelers, talking to prominent influencers in the market. A lot of this research was then applied to how he portrayed the character, achieving that balance between cartoonishly down-on-his-luck and sleazily optimistic while also trying to keep up with current trends.

"He spent time with Ben Baller in L.A., Todd Vulpio, Avianne," commented Josh. "His research and his work ethic [were] just crazy."

Obviously, all of this work really paid off in the long run. Seriously, can you imagine anyone else as Howie besides the Sandman? Probably not, and that's for the best.