For Adam Sandler, Leo Hits Close to Home
Adam Sandler wears a patterned button-down shirt and records the voice of Leo in a studio.

ADAM SANDLER GETS PERSONAL

In Leo, the actor voices a 74-year-old lizard with one year left to live.

Additional reporting by Troy Pozirekides
Photograph by Jesse Grant
18 October 2023

We’ve seen Adam Sandler play it all throughout his decades-long, award-winning career: both eponymous characters in Jack and Jill, an anxiety-riddled sports gambler in Uncut Gems, an underdog basketball coach in Hustle, a special-forces-soldier-turned-hair-stylist in You Don’t Mess with the Zohan — but never a beloved classroom lizard.

Leo (Adam Sandler) is a speckled green lizard with little spikes down his spine.

Leo (Adam Sandler)

Directed by Robert Marianetti (Hotel Transylvania 2), Robert Smigel (Saturday Night Live), and David Wachtenheim (Despicable Me), Leo follows Sandler’s 74-year-old lizard, who has lived in a terrarium in the same Florida classroom for decades. When he discovers he has one year left to live, he sets out to escape to the real world — with the help of his terrarium-mate turtle (Bill Burr). “I think that’s a good message for all of us,” Marianetti says. “If we can help our fellow man on the way out, that’s a good thing.” Rounding out the cast are Jason Alexander, Cecily Strong, Rob Schneider, Stephanie Hsu, Heidi Gardner, Nicholas Turturro, and Nick Swardson. 

For the entire team, and especially Sandler, Leo hits close to home: It’s produced by the actor’s Happy Madison Productions, and his wife Jackie and daughters Sadie and Sunny voice three of the characters in the coming-of-age animated musical. “Adam wanted to make a film for his kids and about them, in a sense,” Wachtenheim says. “It’s a very personal-feeling film.”

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