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“Uncut Gems” tells the tale of a larger-than-life New York City jeweler and gambling addict who takes increasingly risky bets in the new Adam Sandler crime thriller, but is Sandler’s character Howard Ratner based on a real person?
Well... no, not really — but he does have a basis in reality.
Filmmakers Josh and Benny Safdie told critic Matt Zoller Seitz in press notes for the film that although they grew up hearing wild stories of their father working in the Diamond District, Ratner’s character was actually inspired by multiple people.
“He’s an amalgamation of a lot of people,” Josh said. “I am not Howard, but there’s a lot of me in Howard.”
Josh went on to say that although the character is “nothing like our father,” some aspects of the movie “resonate with the type of person our father was.”
The brothers’ father, who is now 61 years old, stopped working in the Diamond District when Josh was about 6 years old, but the brothers say it was the memories they have of that time — and their dad’s boss Howard — that helped them create the world in the film.
Josh told Seitz he still remembered his dad’s real-life boss, Howard, and what it was like to spend time with him.
“All the stories he told were like these mini-pulp genre films,” Josh said. “Every one was like a pulpy story that you wanted to see. Every single one!”
None of the stories made it into the movie — but Josh and Benny Safdie, who both wrote and directed the film along with writer Ronald Bronstein, did incorporate some real-life aspects into the fictional film.
Basketball star Kevin Garnett plays himself in the movie and tries to acquire an Ethiopian black opal from Sandler’s character, according to Sports Illustrated.
Two jewelers who appraise the ring in the film are also real-life jeweler brothers, Josh told Seitz.
"Uncut Gems" is currently playing in theaters.
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