Adam Sandler recalls threatening to quit Airheads if Brendan Fraser wasn’t cast

Adam Sandler raised some rock & roll hell to get Brendan Fraser cast in Airheads.

Sandler joked that he discovered a young Fraser and stole him from Pauly Shore, following the latter’s turn as a caveman introduced to modern life by two high school outcasts (played by Shore and Sean Astin) in the 1992 comedy Encino Man. “I was like, this guy shouldn’t just be a caveman — he should be in a band,” Sandler recalled to Fraser in Variety‘s Actors on Actors.

In the years that followed, Sandler lobbied for Fraser to be cast as the Chazz to his Pip in the 1994 cult classic Airheads, centered on aspiring rock group the Lone Rangers (also comprised of Steve Buscemi’s bassist, Rex) and the desperate and kooky lengths taken to get their demo tape played on the radio. Director Michael Lehmann was “very against” Fraser, Sandler said.

AIRHEADS, from left: Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi. Adam Sandler, 1994. TM and Copyright © 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved / Courtesy Everett Collection

20th Century Fox/Everett Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi and Adam Sandler in ‘Airheads’

“He was like, ‘I  don’t get it. I don’t see the caveman being in the movie.’ And I just said, ‘He can do other shit, man,'” Sandler said, to which Fraser responded, “Are you pulling my chain right now?” Sandler said he went to Lehmann’s house “at like 4 in the morning, woke him up, and I said, ‘Just know Adam Sandler ain’t going to be in Airheads unless old Fraser is in it.'”

Lehmann “changed his little tune” after that, Sandler said. When Fraser says Lehmann “sang a different tune” after flying out to Chicago to meet him, Sandler called him a “filthy liar.” He added, “He didn’t want you. I did, and the rest is pretty good. You had a good life because of me.”

According to Sandler, Shore, Fraser’s former Encino Man costar, was also “against” his inclusion in the film. “He kept saying, ‘Just in case we do Encino 2, I don’t want him doing other shit,'” he recalled. “And I said, ‘Don’t do that to him.'”

Still, Sandler is happy Fraser did Airheads. “I’m happy you were the leader of the band, the Lone Rangers,” he said. “Buscemi, my brother in the movie, loved you. Ultimately, we got our tune on the air. People liked it.” Sander called the experience “one of the best shoots of my life, without a doubt.”

EW has reached out to reps for Lehmann and Shore for comment about the anecdote.

Fraser previously recalled Lehmann’s meeting with him during an oral history for the film’s 25th anniversary in 2019. “Michael Lehmann had sent the script and I think made a trip out to visit me and say very nice things to me,” he told Consequence. “I was very flattered that this proper director had come all this way to say, ‘Hey I think you should do this.’ So that was good. And I had the living-in-L.A.-out-of-your-truck-and-apartment routine down, but I was no musician. And he’s like, ‘That’s okay. None of those guys are either.'”

Watch Sandler and Fraser’s Actors on Actors above.

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