Video/Q&A: 'That's My Boy' star Andy Samberg

(Lenny Gilmore / RedEye )
June 13, 2012|Matt Pais | RedEye movie critic

Yes, Andy Samberg shares a similar name and kinda similar face with Adam Sandler.

Yet perhaps the main reason Samberg was the obvious choice to play Sandler's character's child in "That's My Boy" is that, just like a devoted son who stands by his dad, Samberg has admired and supported his fellow "Saturday Night Live" alum despite all the Razzie nominations and a stream of movies that are lucky to receive even one-star reviews.

In the film, opening Friday, Todd (Samberg) isn't so loyal. He's separated himself from his dad Donny Burger (Sandler), who had the kid as a teenager--thanks to a romance with his junior high math teacher (Eva Amurri Martino), who received 30 years in prison--and raised Todd (real name: Han Solo) like a tiny designated driver without offering any lessons or guidance. Days before Todd's wedding to Jamie (Leighton Meester), Donny poses as Todd's best friend to wrangle the boy into a family reunion, which will be taped by a reality TV show and save Donny from going to prison for tax evasion.

At the Peninsula Hotel a few hours before he fired a G-string gun into the Chicago Theatre crowd during a taping of "Conan," Samberg, 33, talked about the perfection of the role, the possible offensiveness of Adam Sandler movies and if Lorne Michaels tried to convince him to stay at "SNL."

You've said you stalked Adam Sandler for this role. How challenging was it to have to pretend to hate someone who was your idol?
Well, he’s acting like such a dickhead the whole time. [Laughs]

That made it easier?
That’s the trick of acting is acting. You pretend! It’s nice ‘cause by the end we get to have some fun together too. It’s not just me being an uptight prick the whole movie. It’s easy when you think about the story of it, my guy is scarred from his childhood of being raised by a teenage dad who had no clue what he was doing.  But you know Sandler, he’s always kind of lovable.

How do you feel if people look at the poster and say this was the part you were born to play?
I’ve said that myself. I’ve said to him many times before. Before he decided to do the movie. I was like, “You owe me this.” [Laughs] “This is a movie about you having a kid who’s about 12-15 years younger than you who kind of looks like you and is a comedian.”

He owes you.
Well, he could have gone a different direction, but certainly there was no part out there for me that was going to be any more perfect. Maybe if my actual dad starred in a movie.

How would that go?
I think it would be poorly received. [Laughs]

Where does this fit into the next phase of your career? You have “The To-Do List” and “Celeste and Jesse Forever” coming up. Do you want to stick to comedy, or would you do a role that wasn’t comedic at all?
I would do it if somebody wanted me to do it and I felt like I connected with the character and could do a good job. That was kind of how “Celeste and Jesse” came about. I read the script and I was like, “This isn’t normally what people would think of me for but I relate to the character.” And it also did have a lot of comedy to it so I was like, "I feel like I could do a good job with this even though it’s not necessarily what I’ve done previous." But comedy is my first love. It’s the reason that I have any success is because that’s all I’ve ever really wanted to do is comedy. If other stuff happens great; I’m not like beating down people’s doors trying to get nominated for Oscars.

"Philip Seymour Hoffman will not be able to do that. I'm your man!"
[Laughs] Exactly. It’s a weird job to have to be an actor or a comedian or a writer--anything on the creative side in the entertainment world, because you can self-motivate and make things yourself, which is what I’ve had a lot of success doing, especially with [Lonely Island members] Akiva [Schaffer] and Jorma [Taccone], but when I let myself play the part of just being an actor, it kind of is whatever comes to you. And you can chase stuff, but generally people know whether or not they want you to be a part in something.

I know you’ve been talking a lot about leaving “SNL.” You said “It was my time,” and you talked to Lorne after the season’s last episode. When did you start thinking about leaving, and when was the moment you felt like you knew?
I guess I started thinking about it just this past season. The contract when you first get signed for the show is seven seasons, and I knew that I was going into my seventh season. I didn’t really know until I was on the phone with Lorne saying it because no matter when you leave it’s going to be the hardest decision you make.

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