Adam Sandler on being fired from 'Saturday Night Live' in 1995 before achieving massive success

Adam Sandler in Universal Pictures' Billy Madison
Universal Pictures | Getty Images

In 1995, Adam Sandler, then 28, was fired from NBC's "Saturday Night Live" after five years on the show.

"At the time, I was hurt, because I didn't know what else I was going to do," Sandler, now 53, said on Tuesday's "The Howard Stern Show."

Sandler says he was fired during an odd conversation with his manager.

"He was talking to me, and I said 'Yeah, next year on the show, blah blah blah.' And he was like, 'Maybe you don't go back next year.' And I was like 'I don't know man. I still got a few more things.' He's like 'Yeah, but you did it already.' I was like 'I did, but you know…I'll think about it,' and he was like 'I think you thought about it.'"

Leaving "put a lump in my throat," Sandler said. "I was probably sad, covering up the sadness up with being mad, saying 'yeah f--- you.' But I remember when I saw Farley, and he said 'Me too, they don't want me either,' we were both like 'f--- this s---.' We got mad together, pretended we weren't sad, pretended this was for the best."

Sandler's feelings about the incident have since changed. "I am f-----g old enough now. I realize what 'Saturday Night Live' did for me... Everything turned out great."

Looking back, says Sandler, "maybe I would've never left because I'm not good at saying goodbye. They had to get rid of me somehow."

After years of refusing to go back to SNL, Sandler returned to host May. In his opening monologue for the show, he said he "couldn't believe" he was back.

"I was 23 years old when I started here," he said.

"I had some of the best years of my life here. I always tell [my wife and kids] how SNL was the greatest time in my life. My daughter asked me, 'If it was the greatest, then why did you leave?'"

Sandler then sang a song he called "I Was Fired": "I was fired, I was fired. NBC said that I was done. Then I made over 4 billion dollars at the box office, so I guess you could say I won."

Sandler co-wrote and starred in movie "Billy Madison," which premiered a few months before he left SNL. After SNL, Sandler co-wrote and starred other hit comedies like "Happy Gilmore" (1996) and "Big Daddy" (1999). He started his own production company, Happy Madison, in 1999.

The SNL incident wasn't the first time Sandler experienced rejection. While attending New York University, Sandler's acting professor told him to quit acting, told Brad Pitt on Nov. 12, who interviewed him for "Variety Studios: Actors on Actors."

"He took you out for a beer and he kindly said to you, 'Think about something else. Listen, you got heart, but you don't have it. Choose another path,'" Pitt said to Sandler. "You ran into him when you were getting the ultimate payday.... Reportedly, what you did was, you said 'hi' and you introduced him to your friends and you said, 'This is the only teacher to ever buy me a beer.'" Sandler confirmed the anecdote. 

Pitt added, "that's the guy I know, and I think that's why you're here after all these years."

According to Forbes, Sandler was one of the highest paid actors of 2019, with $57 million in earnings.

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Hollywood's male stars make millions more than its A-list actresses
Hollywood's male stars make millions more than its A-list actresses