Comedienne Ellen Barkin chats about The Cobbler, a comedy that has a serious twist.
On the surface, The Cobbler is a comedy: The film centers around a NYC-based shoemaker, Max (Adam Sandler), who puts a literal meaning to “walking a mile in someone else’s shoes” as he becomes every person whose shoes he tries on. Plus, it stars comedy greats like Ellen Barkin, Sandler, and Steve Buscemi. There’s a serious twist in this Tom McCarthy-directed movie, though: Sandler’s character is about to be priced out of the mom-and-pop shoe shop he owns by a high-flying real estate agent, played by Barkin. Can Sandler cobble together everything he knows about his colorful neighborhood and save the day?
We sat down with Barkin to get the scoop on the movie and more.
Tell us a little bit about the character you play in the film The Cobbler. ELLEN BARKIN: She’s the kind of the personification of the gentrification—and, as I see it—of the demise of the New York that I grew up in. For me, I’d liken this movie to It’s a Wonderful Life, and so she’s Mr. Potter.
The whole premise of this film is that Adam Sandler is a cobbler, and he becomes the person whose shoes he tries on. If you could spend a day in anyone’s shoes who would it be and why? EB: I would pick some very famous person who changed the world. I’d like to see what it would be like to be someone whose job had a major impact on society.
There’s a really great cast for this movie—Adam Sandler, Melonie Diaz, and Steve Buscemi. What was it like working on a set with so many talented people? EB: Everybody was great. Everybody came on board this movie, I think, like I did, which was I got an e-mail from Tom telling me he was sending me a script, and I said feel free to send it but I’ll tell you right now my answer is yes—you know, move forward and do whatever you have to do, contact my agents, because I’m saying yes before I read it. I think every actor on that set primarily was there because of Tom, and you just knew that. I’m a huge fan of his, there was no way that the script wasn’t going to appeal to me.
Since it was a comedy, did anyone play pranks between takes or anything like that? EB: There were no pranks that I was aware of—there was a lot of Tom making me do things that I knew, and that he knew, were never going to make it to the movie, just because he enjoyed watching it. So there’s a little, like maybe a two-second scene, where I’m on an exercise machine, a Stairmaster. I think I did that for 20 minutes, like eight times. And I kept saying, “Why are we doing this? I’m exhausted. The phone call is two seconds long.” And he was like, “I just love seeing you on that Stairmaster. You’re so hilarious. I’m shooting it from three different angles. It’s killing me.”