A24's Uncut Gems has garnered widespread acclaim for its writing, cinematography, costume design, and solid acting. Its star Adam Sandler has even generated Oscar buzz for his portrayal of Howard Ratner—a Jewish-American jeweler who suffers from compulsive gambling.
The film's directors, Josh and Benny Safdie, admitted it took some work to finally secure Sandler's involvement—and it was thanks in part to one of JAY-Z's most powerful videos.
The Safdie brothers revealed this detail in a recent interview with Pitchfork, explaining they had sent JAY's "Marcy Me" video during their recruitment efforts. The Safdies directed the visual with the help of Darius Khondji, the Oscar-nominated cinematographer who also worked on Uncut Gems. Josh told Pitchfork that Sandler was greatly moved by the politically charged video, so much so that it helped convince the 53-year-old actor to star in Uncut Gems.
"He really emotionally responded to it," Josh recalled. "It only helped in that courtship."
"Marcy Me" was a standout cut from JAY's 2017 album 4:44. The video tackles the issue of racial discrimination within the criminal justice system, as it centers on the pursuit of an allegedly armed black boy who turned out to be innocent. A large portion of the video was shot from the cockpit of a helicopter, which, according to Josh, was no easy task.
"Those were the hardest, most chaotic shooting conditions I’ve ever been a part of," he told Pitchfork. "I’m very proud of that video."
You can read the Safdie's full interview, in which they break down their favorite music videos, at Pitchfork's website.
Uncut Gems is now playing at select U.S. theaters. The crime-thriller also stars Kevin Garnett, Lakeith Stanfield, Idina Menzel, and the Weeknd.