| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES "Saturday Night Live" comedian Andy Samberg recently announced he was leaving the TV sketch comedy show after seven years, but loyal fans will have plenty of opportunities to get their Samberg fix in movie theaters.
On Friday, the 33-year-old Samberg stars opposite Adam Sandler in big screen comedy "That's My Boy," and in August he appears alongside Rashida Jones in relationship film "Celeste and Jesse Forever."
Samberg said working with Sandler, 45, another "Saturday Night Live" alumnus whose hits of the 1990s include films such as "Waterboy" and "Big Daddy," had been a lifelong dream.
"He was my hero since I was, like 13-years-old," Samberg told Reuters. "If you told the 13-yeard-old me that there would be a huge billboard in Times Square of me and Adam Sandler, I'd have smashed my face into the wall with excitement."
The actor said when he first started doing stand-up comedy, he was often compared to Sandler. When he began on SNL" in 2005, Sandler called him and told him how much he liked Samberg's work, and over the years, he has continued to receive encouraging words from the man who he admired so much.
So, when Samberg heard Sandler would be playing a role in a film that required him to have an on-screen son 15-years younger, Samberg got on the phone.
"I called him straight up and was like, 'I would give my life to do this,'" Samberg recalled. "And he said, 'Well, hopefully you won't have too.'"
In "That's My Boy," the younger comedian plays Todd, whom Donny (Sandler) fathered when just a teenager. After not seeing his deadbeat dad for years, Todd's world turns upside down when Donny shows up on the weekend Todd is getting married.
While movie reviews are not yet in, the pairing worked well for the actors. Samberg recently wrapped a cameo in Sandler's upcoming "Grown-Ups 2" and is among the voices in his animated feature, "Hotel Transylvania," due out this fall.
HOLLYWOOD TO INDIE FILMS
As he breaks out of "SNL," Samberg also is pursuing more serious roles, although comedy remains his first love. After "That's My Boy" comes independent drama "Celeste and Jesse Forever," hitting New York and Los Angeles theaters on August 3.
Co-written by Rashida Jones, who portrays Celeste opposite Samberg's Jesse, the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and tells of a divorced couple that has not quite let go of their marriage. As they begin to pursue other people, the pair find it harder and harder to stay friends.
Though the film has comedic elements, "Celeste and Jesse" is grounded in real life as it explores the complicated and messy matters of a relationship that's trying to stay intact even as it is falling apart. It's the type of role Samberg fans have not yet seen for the actor, but one he relished in doing.
"While we were shooting the film, I kept saying how nice it was not to be rapping about my dick," Samberg joked, referring to his famous, Emmy-award winning "Dick in a Box" short film he performed on SNL. "I mean, there's nothing I like more than rapping about my dick, but it's nice to not have to for once."
He credits his friendship with Jones for landing the part. When she first finished her work on the screenplay, she asked Samberg for his opinion, and he instantly responded to Jesse.
"Something about the character felt like a part of me," he said. He also enjoyed "playing normal" - a nice change from the many pratfalls and stunts "SNL" audiences came to expect of him.
"I figured this film was a good environment to try (something more serious)," he said. "If it goes well, then maybe it will open the door to do more stuff like that. But it's not as important to me to do serious roles as it is to do comedy.
"There are a lot of actors that are better at acting than I am, but I can say I'm better at comedy than they are. I don't want to swim upstream against the current," he added.
Regardless of the roles he chooses for his future, Samberg is looking forward to seeing what life will be like without having a job like SNL to go to six days a week.
"It was a grueling schedule; you kind of disappear from the world when you work there," he said. "I'll be curious to see how my life changes now."
(Reporting By Martin Golan and M.D. Golan)