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YOU DON'T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN

Casting The Film
When Adam Sandler decided to take on the role of the Zohan, he committed himself to the role. "Sandler worked very, very, very hard. He worked out with a Navy SEAL for four months,” says Smigel. "Lifting weights, running miles, doing sit-ups, no snacks. I've never seen him happier.”

Sandler also worked on his Israeli accent. He had help from the script supervisor Ronit Ravich-Boss, who hails from Israel. She assisted Sandler with pronunciation and word usage. In addition, she was a helpful person to have around. "Sometimes, Adam would ask Ronit if she knew the Hebrew word for something,” Dugan says. "If it was a word that sounded funny to us, Adam would use it.”

Another Sandler adviser was Eytan Ben-David, who – in life-imitates-art fashion – is a former Israeli army soldier who now works in a hair salon in Los Angeles. Ben-David met with Sandler and gave him tips on how a hairdresser acts, how to hold the scissors, and hairdresser lingo.

That said, bringing The Zohan to life wasn't all hairspray and conditioner. Sandler also got into fantastic shape to play the counter-terrorism agent. The other key adviser to Sandler was stunt coordinator Scott Rogers, veteran of Spider-Man 2 and 3 and Sky High. As Dugan explains, Scott would be in charge of showing off The Zohan's extraordinary abilities. "We wanted to make all the stunts look as fresh and as original as possible,” says Dugan. "We didn't want the stunts to be comedic, Jackie Chan-style stunts, but real, brutal, scary, and as terrifying as possible – and wherever possible, to show the Zohan doing it.”

Smigel says he knows what really attracted Sandler to the part. "I think he wanted to get it done while he was still young enough to look reasonably good with his shirt off,” he says.

Rob Schneider, who has been a loyal part of Sandler's films from the very beginning, adds, "Adam really did his research, but he found something that was very approachable. I don't think anybody in the world could have played this part except Adam Sandler. There's a real joy to his performance – you get to see him having the time of his life.”

John Turturro says, "I'm always happy to have the opportunity to work with Adam and the Happy Madison guys. Adam goes out of his way to make sure everybody is happy and that the set is a good place to work. Plus, it's nice to cut loose and have some fun.”

Turturro, who previously starred opposite Sandler in Mr. Deeds and Anger Management, plays Phantom. Turturro explains, "Phantom is Zohan's antagonist. He calls me a terrorist, but he sees himself as the freedom fighter for the Arabic side against Zohan and the Israeli side.”

After the big battle in which Zohan fakes his own death, Phantom – who thinks he's finally offed his nemesis – celebrates his success… but as Turturro explains, that's not the end of Phantom's story. "Zohan is faking his death, but little does he realize that Phantom also has his own dreams of not fighting anymore. If Zohan is the Jewish James Bond, Phantom is an Arabic Eminem. He has gold teeth, he always wears shades, and he has his own chain of Muchentuchen restaurants. Basically – and ironically for a guy named Phantom – he's living off his fame not only as a freedom fighter of the people, but as the man who got the Zohan.”

To research his role and work on his accent, Turturro called on a friend. "I've had a chance to read up and I've had a couple of the Arab actors help me with the accent. I have a good friend, Tony Shalhoub, whose family is from Lebanon. He's always introducing me to a lot of the things that go on in that part of the world that are not really seen. This might be a silly comedy, but it's still an opportunity to learn something new.”

Schneider says, "If you're working with John Turturro, you have to be on your game. He's very unpr

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