Adam Sandler Was Meant To Be In Quentin Tarantino’s Best Movie

Adam Sandler was supposed to portray The Bear Jew in Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds.

By TeeJay Small | Published

Adam Sandler quentin tarantino

Adam Sandler was apparently the number one choice to play Donnie Donowitz, AKA The Bear Jew in Quentin Tarantino’s World War 2 film Inglorious Basterds. The famed auteur filmmaker recently revealed during an interview that he penned the bloodthirsty Boston native specifically for Adam Sandler, but it fell through due to a scheduling commitment which saw Sandler starring in Judd Apatow’s Funny People instead. According to a source from, Tarantino stated “I wrote the Bear Jew for Adam Sandler. When I was doing Little Nicky he’s telling me like ‘Oh man I get to beat up Nazis with a bat? F****** script! F****** awesome!”

Despite Adam Sandler’s enthusiasm for the Louisville-wielding sergeant, Quentin Tarantino wound up giving the part to his long-time collaborator and friend Eli Roth, who directed the gory kidnapping horror, Hostel, which Tarantino signed on to be an executive producer for. Eli Roth certainly brought a menacing gravitas to the terrifying American war hero, who blows Adolf Hitler himself to smithereens in the final act of the film, but many fans are left to wonder what exactly Sandler could have brought to the table had his initial scheduling plans taken shape.

eli roth inglorious basterds

Sandler has a long history of writing, producing, and starring in mostly family-friendly comedy films. Sandler is most well-known for acting in lighthearted juvenile roles such as Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, or Lenny Feder, the fun-loving patriarch at the center of the Grown Ups films. Adam Sandler’s typical movies operate in stark contrast to Quentin Tarantino’s usual blend of hyper-violent, foul-mouthed, thought-provoking material, almost certain to stir up as much controversy as adoration from cinema fans the world over. Sandler has been known to venture into serious dramatic acting on occasion, as he did in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love as well as the Safdie Brothers’ 2019 film Uncut Gems, which earned a myriad of award nominations and wins for Sandler’s extremely compelling performance.

Inglourious Basterds is the 6th film by Tarantino and follows a troupe of Jewish special operatives working for the United States military, led by Brad Pitt’s Lieutenant Aldo Raine, as they slash, stab, and shoot their way through Nazi-occupied Germany during the Second World War. The Bear Jew, for whom Adam Sandler was the desired actor for Quentin Tarantino, is a character who exists to strike fear in the hearts and minds of Nazi soldiers across the country. Known for his excessive brutality, he emerges from a shadowy tunnel in his first appearance, as dramatic music swells, signaling his terrifying stature, before bashing the brains of a high-ranking Nazi officer like a decaying Halloween pumpkin.

There is an element of dark comedy within the role of the Bear Jew, which Adam Sandler may have further accentuated under the directorial stylings of Quentin Tarantino, given his long-term comedic leanings, dating back to his time on SNL in the early 90s. Tarantino also suggests that he initially wrote more backstory for the character into the film which he would have wanted Sandler to explore further, such as Donowitz’s home life in Boston before the war. Sadly, these scenes were never filmed with Eli Roth in the role due to the film’s run time, the final cut clocking in at over two and a half hours.

With Adam Sandler continuing to act in more dramatic roles, and Quentin Tarantino currently working on his final film, perhaps we’ll finally get a chance to see the iconic duo collaborate on screen. For now, only time will tell, but if you find yourself watching Inglourious Basterds and feeling an Adam Sandler-sized hole in your heart, just substitute the film’s dialogue for one of Happy Gilmore‘s screaming fits, that should do the trick!