KSU Adam Sandler class gets surprise call from Drew Barrymore

Professor Ron Russo listens to an audio recording of Drew Barrymore herself. Russo and the class listened to Barrymore’s advice for students in the classroom.

Alexandra Sobczak

Students in the “Special Topics: Adam Sandler” class in Franklin Hall knew they would be celebrating Drew Barrymore’s birthday by watching “50 First Dates” and eating peanut butter cups — but what they didn’t know was Barrymore had a special message for them.

Ronald Russo, an adjunct professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, planned to show the class “50 First Dates,” featuring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. But first, he surprised the students with four recorded voicemails Barrymore left on Russo’s phone.

“Drew is a key piece in the Adam Sandler world,” Russo said.

Barrymore has no connection to Kent or Russo, but she volunteered 16 minutes for the recording.

“She called five times actually,” Russo said. “She would’ve kept calling, too. She’s really nice. She actually gives a hoot about the students, so that’s a big thing for me.”

In the messages, Barrymore discussed both the industry and her experiences working with Sandler, answering questions Russo had sent her.

She said she spent many years auditioning for roles, but all those years didn’t make it any easier. She acknowledged rejection is hard.

Hearing this surprised Karla McGinty, a senior mathematics major.

“It was interesting hearing her talk about rejections,” McGinty said. “When you hear ‘Drew Barrymore,’ you don’t think she gets rejected a lot.”

Barrymore also shared that while preparing for “50 First Dates,” she lived in a room full of things her character, Lucy Whitmore, liked. She cared about the details, but she also worked to enjoy the moment, in hopes that viewers would then enjoy what they saw, she said.

Barrymore urged students to work hard.

“Everything takes more time than you can imagine,” Barrymore said. “It’s worth fighting nights, weekends … work your asses off.”

Barrymore also told students that Sandler is a dedicated, caring person and working with him is like being in a large family. 

Sandler is “all in” while working on a film, she said. He takes part in writing, music selection, casting decisions and producing. He cares about the details in films, and he has worked hard his whole life.

“We liked working with the people we knew and loved and trusted,” she said.

Although Barrymore said she and Sandler are a “good match” while working together, she concluded her message with praise for Sandler.

“(Sandler) is one of the greatest men I’ve ever known,” she said. “I’m glad you’re following his work.”

Emily Gebler, a senior fashion merchandising major, said she liked getting insight into who Sandler is outside of being an actor.

“I like her relationship with Adam Sandler,” Gebler said. “I think she really showed his softer side and that he’s a nice person.”

“50 First Dates,” which pairs Sandler’s Henry Roth and Barrymore’s Lucy Whitmore — or “Mr. Peanut Butter Cups” and “a very special person”— accounts for one of the three movies Sandler and Barrymore co-star in.

Russo served the students Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in reference to one of the main props in the movie, while he provided background information on Barrymore by showing clips from “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Firestarter,” “Santa Clara Diet” and “The World’s Best.”

Russo had a large birthday card for all of the 150 students to sign designed for Barrymore’s birthday, which is Feb. 22. 

The class is “trying to make (Barrymore) happy” with the card, Russo said. He encouraged students to write something funny or movie-related while signing it. It will be delivered to her on her birthday.

In his 18 semesters of teaching special topics classes, Russo has set up a teleconference with Seth Green, a video from Adam Sandler, a visit with Angus Oblong and voice messages from Terry Crews and Will Ferrell.

Alexandra Sobczak is a general assignment reporter. Contact her at [email protected].