'Happy Gilmore' at 25: Julie Bowen admits she thought no one would see Adam Sandler favorite

Julie Bowen didn’t have the highest of expectations when she joined the cast of Happy Gilmore, the follow-up to Adam Sandler’s 1995 breakout Billy Madison that was released 25 years ago today.

“At the time I just thought, ‘Oh, no one will ever see this,’” Bowen admits to Yahoo Entertainment during a recent interview (watch above). “And I couldn’t have been more wrong.”

Thirteen years before her career-defining debut as Claire Dunphy on ABC’s long-running hit Modern Family, the then-relatively unknown Bowen played Virginia Venit, the Pro Golf Tour public relations director and object of affection for Sandler’s scrappy hockey player-turned-golfer man-child. The comedy was a box office success, grossing more than three times its budget ($41 million to $12 million), and like Madison, became a long-running favorite on home video and cable TV.

Among the moments that still stick out to her today are Sandler’s famous fisticuffs with longtime The Price Is Right host Bob Barker, which won Best Fight at the MTV Movie Awards.

“It still just really cracks me up every time,” she says. “And just thinking about that day and nobody [knew] for sure how it was gonna go. On paper maybe it sounds like it was gonna be funny… But boy, was it funny.”

There’s also Happy and Virginia’s after-hours date at an ice rink where Lionel Richie and Diana Ross’s ballad “Endless Love” just so happens to blare out over the loud speakers.

“I was so nervous to do that, I was like, ‘Oh, is it too earnest? Is it too serious?’ And then you see the movie and you’re like, ‘No, don’t worry, the more earnest and serious the better. And the [Zamboni driver] mouthing ‘Endless Love’ along with it!”

Sandler, meanwhile, celebrated the film's 25th birthday on Twitter by sharing a self-taped video from his local golf course where he shows he still has his patented "Happy Gilmore Swing" down.

Bowen and Sandler reunited for the 2020 Netflix comedy Hubie Halloween, in which the actress learned just how loyal Sandler is to his many collaborators.

“He still has a lot of the same crew, the same writers, same producers,” Bowen says. “So it’s not like, ‘Remember so-and-so?’ He’s right there. He’s still there. So it felt like stepping into a little train that’s been going the whole time, and I just got to jump on for a little while.”

Happy Gilmore is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

— Video produced by Jen Kucsak and edited by Jason Fitzpatrick

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