For most of us, Adam Sandler will forever exist in our minds as the youthful, energetic class clown pictured in classic comedies like Happy Gilmore and Water Boy. But the reality is, it’s 2022, Sandler is 56, and he’s letting age lead him down new paths. In a new interview with AARP Magazine, the father of two opened up about aging and how it’s changed him—emotionally and physically.
“I’m getting older. That doesn’t mean I feel old,” he explained. “I mean, I do when I’m on the basketball court and an 18-year-old kid hears I’m 56 and says, ‘Wow! I thought you were younger than that!’ But I like my age, and it’s fun to play my age.”
The Click star has entered a drama-centered stage of his largely comedy-based career, which took off with Uncut Gems and continues with his summer film Hustle, in which he plays an NBA scout, and the upcoming Spaceman, in which he steps into the boots of an astronaut.
Sandler continued, adding that aging is “freeing.” “I don’t have to be true to anything other than what I look like and what I think and what I do in life,” he said. That authenticity has even trickled down to his eating and exercise habits. “There hasn’t been one movie where I’ve stayed the same weight throughout a three-month shoot. I used to worry about it. Now I’m OK. Let’s have a prime rib, man!” he said.
He also admitted to feeling a lot “calmer” these days, which he attributed partially to seeing a therapist. “He’s given me a plan. Sometimes just holding in a sentence, taking a beat for a minute before saying something stupid. When I do that, I realize it wasn’t that important to say it in the first place, and I don’t spend two hours making everyone around me feel weirdness for no reason,” he explained.
“I used to go nuts,” he recalled. “I had a quick temper, quick reactions. I made a lot of dumb mistakes and said a lot of stupid things. Looking back on relationships, I could be an ass. I was selfish.”
Despite making these realizations, he still gets anxious from time to time—just like the rest of us. “If things are taking too long, if I’m waiting downstairs for my wife to get dressed, I’m, like, ‘What the hell’s going on up there?’” he explained. “You see me and go, ‘Jeez, how many moods is this guy going to have today?’ But in general, I’ve gotten much better at life as I’ve gotten older.”
The other main sign of the times for Sandler is his mobility. He admitted to being “in agony every minute,” for which he ultimately had hip surgery in September. The operation followed a groin injury that happened on the set of Hustle. “It’s been a year already and I’m still limping around like a fool… it’s horrible,” he told Entertainment Tonight in June. He was spotted walking with a cane during recovery, but is hopefully on the mend now.
As for the rest of his career and beyond, Sandler hopes fans will stick with him through his ongoing evolution.“I want people to continue to enjoy what I’m doing,” he told AARP. “I hope they’ve had a good time with my movies, with what we’ve given them and, whether you’ve liked me or not, appreciate that I’ve tried my best.”
Kayla Blanton is a freelance writer who reports on all things health and nutrition for Men’s Health, Women’s Health, and Prevention. Her hobbies include perpetual coffee sipping and pretending to be a Chopped contestant while cooking.