‘You Can Do It!’: 25 ‘Waterboy’ Trivia Tidbits on Its 25th Anniversary
Captain Insano shows no mercy, and neither did Bobby Boucher when he was tackling his opponents. When The Waterboy hit theaters on November 6, 1998, Adam Sandler had another bona-fide hit on his hands, just like with Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore before it. We still love The Wa-wa-wa-Water Boy, Kathy Bates’ Mama Boucher and Henry Winkler’s Coach Klein, so let’s load up on some high-quality H2O and high-quality tidbits to mark the film’s 25th anniversary…
Bobby’s ‘SNL’ Origins
The Waterboy grew out of one of Adam Sandler’s Saturday Night Live characters. In an interview, Sandler explained, “You could compare (Bobby) to ‘Canteen Boy,’ whereas he does love water, and they both get picked on a lot, but the thing I like the most about this character is just that he is a genuine, good person.”
A Familiar Team
Sandler wrote the film with frequent collaborator Tim Herlihy, who co-wrote Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison and The Wedding Singer as well. The director, Frank Coraci, also directed Sandler in The Wedding Singer, Click and The Ridiculous 6.
It Changed the Adam Sandler Formula
In an interview, Herlihy explained, “With Happy Gilmore, it was really about Adam being funny in a very straight world. It was a very straight world that he was the disruptive element in. The pressure was all on Adam to be funny as Happy. Whereas (The Waterboy) was like a funhouse, crazy version of Southern college football milieu. And it was the first movie where things were funny when Adam wasn’t on screen.”
It Was Almost Set in the 1950s
“At one point, we talked about doing it in black and white and set in the 1950s,” Herlihy has said. “It would’ve been a very different movie. I don’t know about the New England college football scene. It would’ve been different, for sure.”
Bobby Loves His Mama
Kathy Bates almost passed on the film. In 2019, she did an interview with Conan O’Brien where she said, “I was in my bed, and I read the first 12 pages, and I thought, ‘Oh, this is a piece of shit.’ So I threw it away.” Later, her niece pulled it out of the trash and got excited because it was with Sandler — who Bates didn’t know — and she convinced Bates to take the role.
They Never Expected Bates to Say Yes
While Bates was their first choice for Bobby’s Mama, they never thought she’d do it. As Herlihy has said, “It was like disbelief, you know? You expect to get your third and fourth choice. You don’t expect to get Kathy Bates.”
Coach Klein’s Hat
In an interview years later, Winkler said he originally wanted to wear a baseball cap for his character, but Sandler specifically requested the Gilligan-like bucket hat he sports in the movie. (Winkler mistakenly referred to it as a “porkpie hat,” but his ignorance of hats makes him no less endearing.)
‘The Waterboy’s Dedicated Fanbase
Winkler has said that multiple college football players have told him about their coaches playing The Waterboy during bus rides to games.
Born on the Bayou
The Waterboy was set in Louisiana because Sandler and his friends previously had a blast at Mardi Gras.
Bates Didn’t Work That Hard on Her Accent
“I think we would’ve looked down on people like the Bouchers. They were like Cajun, down there in the swamps and the Everglades and stuff, so I think that I came from a quote-unquote ‘more refined’ culture than that, and I didn’t even have any idea what a Cajun accent was like, so I just kinda had fun and did whatever I felt like doing,” Bates has explained.
Mud Dogs vs Crawdads
Bobby Boucher’s team, the Mud Dogs, was originally going to be called “The Crawdads.”
Home of the Mud Dogs
Much of The Waterboy was filmed at Spec Martin Memorial Stadium at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida.
No Other Bowl Would Do
The filmmakers tried to have a real college bowl lend their name to the film, but no one would sign up, leading to them inventing the fictional Bourbon Bowl.
Bobby Boucher’s Luckiest Fan
About 5,000 people were in the crowd to film the Bourbon Bowl game. To keep people there and energized, the crowd received T-shirts, and raffles were held, including one for a jet ski.
Kathy Bates Hates Football
“I’m not a fan of football, never have been,” Bates has said. “Recently, with all of the — what is it, the CTE or whatever they call it, the guys that have been banging each other in the head with the helmets for so many years and how they’ve realized that it’s just really not great for the head — I’ve just never been a fan of the game.”
Sandler said he “worshiped” Winkler when he was growing up, as he was a fan of the Fonz on Happy Days. He also said he tried to trick Winkler into saying Fonzie-like things on the set.
Sandler has said that Mama Boucher was like his mother in that she was very overprotective.
Sandler’s Football Skills
Like Bobby Boucher, Sandler is good at football. As a child, he won a Punt, Pass and Kick Trophy.
Guess Who Eats Together at the Carnegie Deli?
Winkler ended up in the movie because he called Sandler after being name-dropped in “The Chanukah Song.” From there, Sandler asked him to read the script for The Waterboy.
The Rob Schneider of It All
The Waterboy was the first Sandler film to feature Schneider. This is where both the “You can do it!” and “Oh, no! We suck again!” memes came from.
Bobby’s Big Daddy
Bobby’s father was played by director Frank Coraci, even though Coraci is only seven months older than Sandler.
It Was Not a Critical Darling
‘The Waterboy’s High Water Mark
On a budget of $23 million, the film raked in $190 million, making it the fifth biggest movie of 1998.
Sandler recently revived the Bobby Boucher character to help promote Winkler’s new memoir.
More Waterboy on the Way?
In 2020, reports emerged about Sandler developing a sequel under his deal with Netflix. The movie was allegedly going to focus on Bobby Boucher training a new waterboy, but its current status is unclear. The last time Sandler talked about it was in 2022, when he expressed an openness to the idea of a sequel, saying, “That would be fun as hell. I love Mama. I love Henry Winkler. I mean, come on. He’s always gonna be Coach Klein to me. But I don’t know, man — I don’t know what the ideas (would be).”