The film’s script, co-written by the Safdies and longtime collaborator Ronald Bronstein, proved to be one that compelled a captivating performance from Sandler on its own. However, according to the directors and other cast members, it was his dedication to the project that truly made him the right fit for Howie. While never diving into method acting, Benny told Complex that Sandler would constantly have his character on his mind, even when his acting persona dropped.
“Even during downtime on set when Adam would be out of character,” he said, “he would then just spend that time thinking about, like, why Howard did the things he did in character that day.”
It wasn’t just the introspection and analysis of Howie that Sandler was seemingly interested in. According to Josh Safdie, the actor did plenty of research on the world of jewelers, talking to prominent influencers in the market. A lot of this research was then applied to how he portrayed the character, achieving that balance between cartoonishly down-on-his-luck and sleazily optimistic while also trying to keep up with current trends.
“He spent time with Ben Baller in L.A., Todd Vulpio, Avianne,” commented Josh. “His research and his work ethic [were] just crazy.”
Obviously, all of this work really paid off in the long run. Seriously, can you imagine anyone else as Howie besides the Sandman? Probably not, and that’s for the best.