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BIG DADDY

About The Production
With Sandler on board, the producers then began the process of looking for a director who could balance the broad comedic elements of the script with the poignant moments while also capturing its romantic comedy angle

With Sandler on board, the producers then began the process of looking for a director who could balance the broad comedic elements of the script with the poignant moments while also capturing its romantic comedy angle. Perhaps more importantly, they needed a director with the patience and focus to work with a child actor in a major role.

Dennis Dugan, an accomplished film and television director, boasts a background which reflects a wonderful mix of hit comedy films (Happy Gilmore) and critically acclaimed television dramas ("Chicago Hope" and "NYPD Blue"). He also had the added advantage of having worked extensively with child actors. Dugan, a former actor who starred in such films as Parenthood and The Howling, looked forward to reteaming with Sandler, having directed him in Happy Gilmore. "I like the process that we have. It's a bit different from any other process in terms of making a film-it's very collegial," he says. "I'd work with Sandler if he called up and said, 'I've got an idea to dramatize the phone book.'"

"As a director, he's a great man," says Sandler of Dugan. "He encourages us guys who are trying to be funny to just keep going until it's funny. He really creates a great, relaxed environment."

Reflecting on how his own role as a parent had proved helpful during filming, Dugan states, "Essentially it was valuable for them to have somebody who understood what it takes to raise a child," referring to the some of the filmmakers who didn't have children. "Although," says Dugan, "Herlihy did start to look like a parent after six weeks with a newborn." Herlihy laughingly acknowledges that after the birth of his son, he and Sandler made a few script revisions.

In addition to Sandler, Big Daddy brings together a diverse cast of talented actors including Joey Lauren Adams (A Cool Dry Place, Chasing Amy), Jon Stewart (Playing by Heart, The Faculty), Allen Covert (Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer), Leslie Mann (The Cable Guy, George of the Jungle), Rob Schneider (Knock-Off, The Waterboy) and veteran character actors Josh Mostel (Great Expectations) and Joe Bologna (My Favorite Year).

Casting for the pivotal role of Julian proved to be a bit more challenging for the filmmakers than the other casting choices. Ironically, Cole Sprouse, who makes his feature film debut in Big Daddy along with brother Dylan, was the first actor to read for the role. Though impressed with the boy's range, filmmakers wanted to see a variety of kids to make a decision about a role so crucial to the development of the lead character. After seeing virtually every kid actor in Los Angeles, the producers and casting director Roger Mussenden held an open casting call in New York which brought out 2,000 Julian hopefuls. The extensive search only reaffirmed the filmmakers' first inclination to cast Cole in the role.

For Joey Lauren Adams, who received a Golden Globe nomination in 1998 for her starring role in Chasing Amy, the role of successful attorney Layla Maloney offered an irresistible opportunity to play another strong female character. Of the seemingly unlikely relationship between Layla and the fun-loving Sonny, Adams remarks, "Sonny's at one extreme, and she's at the other, and like most things<

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