Fact: On the set of Billy Madison, Adam Sandler pegged grade school kids too hard during the dodgeball scene that led them to start crying instantaneously.
The 1995 film, Billy Madison Dodgeball is a comedy directed by Tamra Davis. It starred Adam Sandler (as Billy Madison) who played a dimwitted 27-year-old heir to the Madison hotels fortune of 650 hotels. Adam Sandler Billy Madison, a drunken disturbance who lived on his father’s estate, was a disappointment to his father. Brian, the father, decides its time to hand over the company to the than executive vice president Eric Gordon. Billy knowing how bad Eric is pleads with his father to reconsider. Brian reveals to Billy that he had to bribe his teachers to give Billy passing grades and that he isn’t competent to manage the company. Billy tries to compromise with his father that if he passes 12 grades of school, two weeks per grade, and can show his competence, he can manage the company.
During the shooting of the infamous Billy Madison Dodgeball scene in, Adam Sandler was pegging the dodgeball relatively hard at the grade school kids. This pretty much breeds comedy gold as the film has become iconic. In reality, it could have gone really bad for Adam Sandler. There is a long adage about who not to work with, 1) Dogs, or 2) Kids.
Late one night, Tamra Davis, the director of Billy Madison, received a call from Adam Sandler telling her that he had plans to actually hit the kids with a dodge ball, and could not stop laughing at the thought of how funny it would be to hurt a kid in comedy.
Instead of telling him he was crazy, I believed him and got the parents’ permission for their kids to get hit genuinely hard. The kids started crying as soon as the ball hit them, so I had to cut away before the audience could see. (Incidentally, E! News was coming by the set that day. I tried to keep them as far away from the dodge ball as possible.)
During the dodgeball take, he through the ball as hard as he could and didn’t hold back, and as a result and almost like clockwork, one kid after another started to cry. As any normal result, the kids parents vocally took issue and walked up to Sandler.
“It was our first movie that we were doing,” Sandler said. “I hit some kid pretty hard, and he starts crying, and his parents come up to me.”
Sandler tries to explain to Conan on hitting a 6-year-old with dodgeballs.
The parents walk up to Sandler and say,
The parents come up to me and they’re like, ‘That’s a kid. You nailed that kid.Goat.com.au
In response to the parents, Sandler said,
I was like, ‘No, no, no. That’s the scene. I’m like a big guy, going back to school. I’m supposed to plug all these kids. It’s part of the joke.’ And they were like ‘No, no, no.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about? Didn’t they read the script?’ They go, ‘They’re six. They don’t read yet.’… I told the guys to roll anyway and I nailed a bunch of kids.Conan
While the scene is now in the lore of comedic scenes, it could have drastically altered the course of Adam Sandler’s career trajectory. Fortunately, this was before the time of public bullying outcry. While we all unanimously know it’s mean, there is something particularly and intrinsically funny about someone bigger and older knocking down a bunch of smaller and younger kids. I guess that says a lot about the human race!
- published, D. L. (2017, March 16). Why Parents Got Mad At Adam Sandler On The Set Of Billy Madison. CINEMABLEND. https://www.cinemablend.com/news/1636220/why-parents-got-mad-at-adam-sandler-on-the-set-of-billy-madison
- Mar 16. According to Adam Sandler, the dodgeball scene from “Billy Madison” was just as rough as it looked. HelloGiggles. Retrieved April 22, 2022, from https://hellogiggles.com/reviews-coverage/movies/adam-sandler-dodgeball-scene-from-billy-madison/
- Twenty years ago, I directed “Billy Madison.” It’s still the most relevant work of my career.. (n.d.). Washington Post. Retrieved April 22, 2022, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/02/12/twenty-years-ago-i-directed-billy-madison-its-still-the-most-relevant-work-of-my-career/?noredirect=on
- Never Forget Adam Sandler Actually Hitting Kids In The Face For Comedy. (2020, August 1). GOAT. https://goat.com.au/entertainment/never-forget-adam-sandler-actually-hitting-kids-in-the-face-for-comedy/