×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu on Why ‘Hustlers’ Is an Empowering, Feminist Story

When Jennifer Lopez read the script for “Hustlers,” she felt an immediate connection to Ramona, the most powerful stripper at a New York club during the 2008 financial crisis.

But she also liked that the screenplay for “Hustlers,” written by Lorene Scafaria, touched on much deeper themes. “It’s about the people, but it’s also about something bigger,” Lopez said. “It’s a universal story about life and greed and desperation and what people do.”

STX Entertainment’s “Hustlers,” which opens in theaters on Sept. 13, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday night, to wildly enthusiastic reviews. The following day, the film’s cast – Lopez, Constance Wu, Keke Palmer and Julia Stiles – and Scafaria, who also directed the movie, sat down for an interview at the Variety Studio presented by AT&T.

When asked if they considered “Hustlers” a feminist film, Wu responded quickly. “I think it’s a feminist story,” she said. “It depends on how you define feminism, which I think is just equality. One of the reasons I think it’s especially feminist is because we’re taking women who have previously been judged and shamed by society and getting to know them as people instead of as objects. I think that is the true spirit of feminism is humanity. And that’s what our movie goes after.”

Scafaria recalled how when she pitched “Hustlers,” based on a New York magazine article about strippers at Scores, most studio executives were uncomfortable that they women were such tough anti-heroines. “When pitching an idea like this, it’s not a black-and-white story,” Scafaria said. “I think it’s hard to get any movie made nowadays. It’s especially hard to get movies made about women doing questionable things.”

“About women – period,” Lopez interjected.

Did she really believe that? “I do,” Lopez explained, as she pointed to the economics of telling original stories that weren’t big blockbusters or comic-book sequels. “And when you have women characters at the front of it, it’s a whole another battle. And you go, ‘Yeah it’s all starring women. There’s really no male characters in it.’”

VIDEO: Constance Wu on the Feminism of “Hustlers” 

Scafaria said that she was intent on telling a story that was big in scope. “It was fun telling an epic story about women,” she said. “Yes, we get a lot of smaller stories. I think people assume our lives are small stories. I think that contributes to the amount of female speaking roles in movies like this. In the last 20 years, there hasn’t been an Academy Award winning movie with women talking to each other, except for ‘Chicago,’ where they are singing to each other.”

Lopez is generating Oscar buzz for her role as Ramona. It’s not clear if she’ll be campaigned in the lead or supporting category yet. But unbelievably, no Latina has ever won the Oscar for best actress. (Only four have been nominated in the history of the Academy Awards: Fernanda Montenegro, Salma Hayek, Catalina Sandino Moreno and Yalitza Aparicio, earlier this year, for “Roma.”)

“Listen, you work so hard for so many years, it’s nice to be in the conversation for sure,” Lopez said when asked about the awards buzz. “I’m so proud of what Lorene is done. I think she deserves to be in that conversation too.”

As for playing Ramona, Lopez took pole-dancing classes for authenticity. She insisted on a scene, at the beginning of the movie, where her character performs to Fiona Apple’s “Criminal.”

“It’s really tough,” Lopez said about the process. “That steel pole is unforgiving and you just have to figure it out. I did a crash course. Cardi [B], when I spoke to her about doing the movie, I told her I’m just starting to how to learn how to pole dance. I said, ‘It’s so hard. I’m bruised everywhere.’ She was like, ‘Oh yeah. I’m really good at it now, but it took me years to learn.’ Even my teacher said, ‘This is normal.’ I said, ‘This chafing is normal!?’ I knew I had to conquer three or four minutes of the song and that’s what we did. It’s difficult. It’s funny walking in someone else’s shoes—you never know what it’s like. Until it’s you.”

More Film

  • Suro

    Lastor, ‘The Endless Trench’s’ Irusoin, Malmo Team for Mikel Gurrea’s ‘Suro’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    SAN SEBASTIAN – Barcelona-based Lastor Media and Malmo Pictures have teamed with San Sebastian’s Irusoin to produce “Suro” (The Cork), the feature debut of Mikel Gurrea and a product of San Sebastian’s Ikusmira Berriak program. The film stars Laia Costa, who broke through with Sebastian Schipper’s “Victoria” and also serves as executive producer, and Pol López [...]

  • Ane

    Madrid’s ECAM Incubator Develops Terrorism Drama 'Ane'

    SAN SEBASTIAN — For the second year in a row, the ECAM Madrid Film School has paired a number of up-and-coming filmmakers with various industry veterans for an Incubator program part of the school broader development arm called The Screen. For its initial edition in 2018, this Incubator selected five feature projects, putting the selected [...]

  • Roma Cinematography

    'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' and 'Roma' Win LMGI Awards for Motion Pictures

    Two major 2018 releases – actioner “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” and critics’ darling “Roma” – were honored for film location work by the Location Managers Guild International at a ceremony this evening at the Eli & Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica. The 6th Annual LMGI Awards also recognized “Chernobyl” and “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” [...]

  • Soho House

    Soho House Lands In Downtown Los Angeles

    Warner Music, Spotify and Lyft are poised to welcome a new neighbor to downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District with Soho Warehouse, the third California outpost of the Hollywood-loved members-only club — and the largest North American opening to date. Hot on the heels of the Soho House Hong Kong debut earlier this summer, the private [...]

  • Born to Be Live: 'Easy Rider'

    Born to Be Live: 'Easy Rider' Gets a Concert/Screening Premiere at Radio City

    In a year full of major 50th anniversary commemorations — from Woodstock to the moon landing — why not one for “Easy Rider,” Dennis Hopper’s hippie-biker flick that was released on July 14, 1969? That was the idea when a rep for Peter Fonda, who starred in the film as the laid-back Captain America, reached out [...]

  • Costa Gavras

    Costa-Gavras and Cast on Nationality, Identity, and Cinema

    SAN SEBASTIAN  —  Though he’s been based in Paris since 1955 and came up through the French film industry, director Costa-Gavras has never forgotten his roots. “Those who are born Greek,” said the Peloponnese-born filmmaker at a Saturday press conference,  “stay Greek all their lives.” The once-and-always Greek was not just in San Sebastian to [...]

  • Lorene Scafaria, Jennifer Lopez. Lorene Scafaria,

    'Hustlers' Director Lorene Scafaria: 'We Wanted to Treat It Like a Sports Movie'

    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 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content