It would seem as if every Quentin Tarantino film always features at least one surprising, standout performance. The headline actors always deliver, but the real surprise is how amazing some of the supporting cast turns out to be, as those characters often are the more risky, interesting roles. And in the case of “Inglourious Basterds,” one of the standout, supporting roles is the Bear Jew, played by Eli Roth. But as amazing as Roth is in the role, can you imagine how insane it would have been with Adam Sandler playing the character?
In a recent episode of the Club Random podcast, hosted by Bill Maher, Quentin Tarantino talked about his original casting ideas for the Bear Jew in “Inglourious Basterds,” and he jokingly blamed Judd Apatow for stealing “all the good Jews” he had in mind for the role, including Sandler. The interview features the trio of Maher, Tarantino, and Apatow, as they talk about a variety of subjects, including the aforementioned “Inglourious Basterds.”
As Tarantino explained, his original idea was to cast Adam Sandler for the role of the Bear Jew, after the two hung out during the making of “Little Nicky.” Unfortunately for Tarantino, Judd Apatow had already cast Sandler in “Funny People,” creating a scheduling conflict for the actor.
“Obviously he should’ve done [‘Funny People’] because of the whole thing of it,” Tarantino said to Apatow. “I mean, you start with the fucking video cassette of you guys as kids. But yeah, the Bear Jew was going to…I wrote the Bear Jew for Adam Sandler. When I was doing ‘Little Nicky,’ he’s telling me like, ‘Oh man, I get to fucking beat up Nazis with a bat? Fucking script! Fucking awesome! I can’t fucking wait! I can’t fucking wait!’ He was like telling every Jewish guy, ‘I’m going to fucking play this guy who beats up Nazis with a fucking bat.’”
He added, “Here’s the problem. [Judd] wrapped up all the good Jews . That was the problem. Seth Rogen and all the good Jews were doing ‘Funny People.’ 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!”
As mentioned, Eli Roth, a friend of Tarantino’s, ended up in the role and turned in a really iconic performance, even if the role is a bit smaller than people hoped it would be. However, given the amazing work Sandler turned in over the years with his dramatic roles, you can really start to imagine just how great he would have been killing Nazis in ‘Basterds.’ Hopefully, in the future, Tarantino and Sandler can collaborate on a role that is just as memorable.
You can hear the entire conversation below: