How Jennifer Aniston Ended Up Such Good Friends With Adam Sandler
By the time she first played one in a line of hotties who end up with the sweet man-child types he usually plays in his comedies, Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler had already known each other for upward of 20 years.
They met when they were practically still kids—”we were like 14,” Aniston quipped on Jimmy Kimmel Live, exaggerating a bit—in Los Angeles when she was dating one of his buddies, who has always remained nameless. Adam and Jen sat down at Jerry’s Deli together, bonding over pickles and starting a friendship that’s still going strong, three decades later.
“She crunched too loud,” Sandler informed E! News’ Will Marfuggi last year about his co-star in 2011’s Just Go With It and 2019’s Murder Mystery.
There was no mystery when it came to their instant connection, though Sandler admits he never could have imagined they’d both become two of the most successful entertainers of their generation, let alone their respective high school classes.
“I knew I was going to be friends with her,” Sandler added. “I didn’t know I was going to be making movies with her. We both didn’t know that, we were young and we didn’t have jobs quite then.”
Aniston isn’t surprised that they gravitated to each other, either—or, for that matter, that her pal blew up in a big way.
“He’s such a mensch and you just love each other, he takes you in, and I’m very much the same way,” Aniston explained, “and then you become family. It’s like second nature.”
Sandler added, “And Jen has a family of friends and I have a family of friends, and we all hang.” “We all know each other,” she agreed.
She name-checked mutual pals like David Spade, and Sandler joked about what it was like being invited to Lake Como with Jen to have pizza with George and Amal Clooney.
“She’s like, ‘George and I would love for you to come over for pizza, but you have to dress right…You can’t show up in your shorts,'” he cracked, mimicking an exasperated voice. Clooney “wears T-shirts, just like the Sandman,” he noted. “They lay on him a little better. That’s the only difference.”
And with that, he had Aniston laughing for the umpteenth time that day.
Their camaraderie is palpable and they finish each other’s sentences like brother and sister, but their friendship was primarily under the radar up until Sandler recruited Aniston to star in Just Go With It, playing his character’s best friend whom he eventually realizes, after chasing after Brooklyn Decker for most of the movie, he’s totally in love with.
After they first met, Sandler ended up back in New York in 1990, first as a writer and then as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, while Aniston got Friends in 1994, so their journeys geographically diverged early on. Even when Sandler was fired from SNL in 1995, a turn of events that he never fails to poke fun at these days, he started starring in at least a movie a year, starting with Billy Madison and has barely slowed down since—his type of downtime coming more in the form of producing films that he can just have all of his friends be in too.
Aniston, of course, became a huge star and then married Brad Pitt in 2000 (there’s no mention of Sandler being there, but Spade was, and her wedding was in Malibu—as was Sandler’s when he married wife Jacqueline Titone three years later). She got divorced in 2005 and there was just a lot going on around that time, but we know she was leaning on her tight circle of friends in the aftermath. Meanwhile, Sandler’s first daughter, Sadie, was born in 2006 and his second, Sunny, came in 2008.
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Perhaps distance made the heart grow even fonder, because Aniston called it “heaven,” a “dream” when she and Sandler finally worked together on Just Go With It, which was filmed primarily in Hawaii, one of her favorite vacation destinations.
“It was a really nice time,” Sandler agreed, nodding, during their joint sit-down with ScreenSlam in 2011, “hope to do it again.”
“And we’re going to,” she swiftly added.
But their previous connection was so unknown at the time, that they were asked if they ever hung out when the cameras weren’t rolling. (They’ve also been the subject of are-they-romantic rumors here and there over the years, also precisely because it wasn’t always a given that they were longtime friends.)
The following year, Sandler paid tribute to Aniston when she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, first taking gum out of his mouth and sticking it to the top of the podium for safe-keeping while he talked. He also did not dress up for the occasion, but it’s not as if she would have expected him to.
“That’s for you, Aniston,” he said, “nothing but respect, the best T-shirt I have. Here’s a little speech I wrote last night.”
“Once upon a time, there was a poor little Greek girl,” he began, in his best Sandler voice, causing tears of laughter almost immediately.
“I love this girl, my wife loves this girl, the entire world loves this girl,” he said.
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True story, by then they had seamlessly melded circles back in L.A. Aniston would host pizza nights and Adam and Jackie would be among the guests, shooting pool and watching big games.
“She has a lot of nice TVs. I hide in one of her rooms,” Sandler explained to ScreenSlam, “she hangs out with my wife and all her other friends. I tend to hide”—”no you don’t,” she protested. “I have some fun,” he acknowledged. “By the way, my favorite image [from one of those parties] is when a good song comes on and I look across the room, I see Aniston hear a good song and start dancing. She’s a great little dancer.”
Needless to say, joint publicity has never been a problem for these two.
They were back at it last year for Netflix’s Murder Mystery, what turned out to be a years-in-the-making reunion for them, in which they play a long-married couple who get tangled up in some international intrigue that the title has no qualms giving away.
And just as before, they had a blast, this time filming on location in Italy (hence pizza night with the Clooneys on Lake Como). Aniston also shared with E! News that she advised Sandler on how to groom the mustache he grew for the movie, so that his wife wouldn’t mind touching his face.
“We must have been real family in another life,” she acknowledged their bond when they sat down together on Jimmy Kimmel Live last summer. Alas, she had a previous commitment that had prevented her from attending Sadie’s Bat Mitzvah that past weekend. So she missed the command performance by Adam Levine, but “she sent one of the best gifts Sadie received out of everybody,” Sandler gushed. “$1.8 million.”
Once again, he had Aniston in stitches.
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In November they took to the stage together to accept the People’s Choice Award when Murder Mystery was named Comedy Movie of 2019, and in January Aniston unexpectedly gave a shout-out to Sandler when she won a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama for The Morning Show. (You know, in the speech Brad Pitt was watching backstage.)
After thanking a list of friends and colleagues involved with the Apple TV+ show, she remembered before she left the stage, “Oh, Adam Sandler! your performance is extraordinary and your magic is real, buddy, I love you.”
He was not in the room, having been passed over by the mainstream award shows despite the various raves for his performance in Uncut Gems, but no doubt he got the message.
Just Go With It and Murder Mystery are both streaming on Netflix.
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