Spaceman Adam Sandler
Adam Sandler in Spaceman courtesy of Netflix

Adam Sandler had to put up with some pain while filming Netflix’s Spaceman, which required him to be suspended from wires to simulate the zero-gravity of space, director Johan Renck says.

Spaceman stars Sandler as Jakub Prochazka, an astronaut on a solo mission into deep space. Half a year into the mission, Jakub’s intense emotional distress over being separated from his wife (Carey Mulligan) attracts the attention of a concerned alien spider creature named Hanus (Paul Dano).

Spaceman Director on Adam Sandler’s “Painful” Experience

“Adam is hanging in these wires, you know, 12 hours a day,” Renck said at a Q&A following a screening of the Netflix sci-fi film at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

“It’s painful and horrible and all that,” the director added.

Sandler recalled the uncomfortable experience with the wires at the Berlin Film Festival in February, according to the Economic Times.

“The wires were tough because, you know, my body’s not exactly the most limber. They dug into me, they hurt,” Sandler said. “I’d tell the stuntmen who were wiring me up, ‘Hey, that hurts!’ but they didn’t always believe me. Still, we worked through it as a team. Johan [Renck] would say, ‘You’re not looking like you’re floating,’ and then he’d get wired up and show me how it’s done!”

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Sandler wasn’t the only one floating, Renck said — he also wanted the cameras to abide by the simulated laws of space.

“The whole film is shot from big 60 foot cranes sticking into the spaceship with 360 heads on them so that the camera could rotate around its own axis. The crane could always move in and out, up and down left to right. And so for me, it was a little bit of a risk taking it because I said you know, the camera has to be floating all the time,” the director told the crowd at SBIFF.

Sandler got some relief while filming close-up scenes on board the space ship, which allowed him to sit in a chair for a moment, Renck said. During those scenes, he and cinematographer Jakob Ihre came up with a way to still give the illusion of floating through camera movements even though Sandler was briefly stationary.

“Obviously when we’re shooting like a close up — like a really proper close up — he’s sitting on a chair or something like that. And the cameras floating the way they do benefited the sense of zero gravity because they created a slight sort of parallax between Adam and the background to the extent that it didn’t feel like he was sitting in a chair but actually having a bit of motion,” Renck said.

“So it had the beneficial effect also that we didn’t have to have him strung up at every instance.”

Sandler said his co-star Paul Dano, who plays a sentient, spider-like alien creature, helped him cope with the uncomfortable moments.

“We really delved into it together. I felt his pain, and he helped me through mine,” Sandler said in Berlin.

In addition to the Sandler, Dano, and Mulligan, Spaceman also features cast members including, Isabella Rossellini, Kunal Nayyar, Lena Olin, Petr Papánek, Marian Roden, Zuzana Stivínová, Sinead Phelps, John Flanders, and Jessica Bechynová. It also features a cameo from Sandler’s daughter, Sunny Sandler. The script was written by Jaroslav Kalfar and Colby Day.

Renck is known for directing the 2019 HBO mini series Chernobyl as well as episodes of Breaking Bad, Bates Motel, Halt and Catch Fire, and The Walking Dead. He also directed the 2008 drama thriller Downloading Nancy and several music videos including Lana Del Rey’s “Blue Velvet,” Beyoncé’s “Me, Myself and I,” Kylie Minogue’s “Love at First Sight,” and Madonna’s “Hung Up.”

Spaceman is now streaming on Netflix.

You can watch Renck’s full Q&A at SBIFF below.

Main Image: Adam Sandler in Spaceman courtesy of Netflix