The star-studded cast of “Hustlers” didn’t just become strippers in the empowering female-helmed blockbuster — they also became athletes.
When speaking to “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast, at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this month, “Hustlers” director Lorene Scafaria explained the extreme athleticism required of the movie’s leading actresses, who all had to learn how to pole dance for convincing performances. “We wanted to treat it like a sports movie,” Scafaria said, noting the grueling training that the girls, and especially Jennifer Lopez, had to go through to prepare for the role.
In the film, Lopez stars as Ramona, a scheming stripper who brings “new girl” Destiny (Constance Wu) under her wing to start ripping off money from their rich clientele. Also in their girl gang are Annabelle (Lili Reinhart) and Mercedes (Keke Palmer), each based off of real-life strippers that inspired the story.
“[The girls] are like football players leaving the tunnel because it does feel like [that] to follow out onto the floor. You got to psych yourself up for the big game,” Scafaria said. “It’s either a solo sport or a team sport depending on how isolated you are or how many friends you have. I mean, strippers do work in teams, in pairs a lot. And so yeah, I mean I wanted to show the athleticism of it.”
One standout moment comes at the start of the film when Ramona performs her signature routine, which sees Lopez expertly slither her way up the pole like she’s been pole-dancing her entire life. “My mouth is on the floor still probably,” Scafaria said about watching the routine. “I believe in the script I wrote Ramona does one final flourish….But if you’re Jennifer Lopez, you’re going to take that one final flourish and you’re going to turn it into a routine.”
You can listen to the entire “Big Ticket” interview with Scafaria below. You can also find it at iHeartRadio or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.