If Quentin Tarantino had his way, Adam Sandler would’ve played Donny Donowitz, otherwise known as the Bear Jew, in Inglorious Basterds. Tarantino and Judd Apatow appeared on a recent episode of Bill Maher’s Club Bastards podcast (per Variety), where the director confirmed he wrote the part for Sandler, who ultimately had a commitment to Apatow.
Tarantino and Apatow met through Sandler in 2000, when the former director had a cameo in Sandler’s film Little Nicky. Tarantino was already working on the Inglorious Basterds script at the time and had Sandler in mind for Donowitz, but the film didn’t premiere until 2009 — the same year Sandler starred in Apatow’s film Funny People. “I feel bad because when I did Funny People with Sandler, I wasn’t aware that that was the exact time you were trying to use him for Inglorious Basterds,” Apatow said.
Looking back, Tarantino doesn’t seem to mind. “Obviously he should’ve done yours because of the whole thing of it. I mean, you start with the fucking video cassette of you guys as kids,” he said. “But yeah, the Bear Jew was going to…I wrote the Bear Jew for Adam Sandler. When I was doing Little Nicky, he’s telling me like, ‘Oh man, I get to fucking beat up Nazis with a bat? Fucking script! Fucking awesome! I can’t fucking wait! I can’t fucking wait!’ He was like telling every Jewish guy, ‘I’m going to fucking play this guy who beats up Nazis with a fucking bat.’”
Tarantino ultimately cast Eli Roth in the role of Donowitz, but he joked that it was difficult to find a Jewish actor who wasn’t working with Apatow at the time. “Here’s the problem. [Apatow] wrapped up all the good Jews,” he said. “That was the problem. Seth Rogen and all the good Jews were doing Funny People. I’m killing Hitler with baseball bats and there’s no good Jews available! David Krumholtz, nobody! All the good Jews were all wrapped up! I’m doing the Jewish male fantasy!”
Tarantino’s not a big fan of the current state of the film industry (you can thank Marvel for that, he says), so he’s looking to turn to television next year. As for Apatow, he last helmed Bros, the first-ever romantic comedy starring a gay couple from a major studio, while Sandler announced a run of standup dates for 2023. Grab tickets to those shows via Ticketmaster.