Directed by Lorene Scafaria, the upcoming stripper crime drama called Hustlers is set to release on 13 September 2019.
The film is based on a true story: a small group of female strippers from a NYC strip club scammed rich male Wall Street execs in 2008. The story came out in New York Magazine in 2015.
And it is this premise that really attracted Scafaria. She tells IndieWire, “It was just so fascinating and so dynamic and it introduced us to a world that I felt like people don’t really think about.”
“Maybe even if they’re aware of it, they don’t really think about it too much. … It felt like you never really saw this from their perspective. This is about working women and what they are up against. The financial crisis really did destroy their industry. I mean, it ruined everybody’s industry, but it really took a toll on the dancers.”
With a story as bold and daring as that, you’ll need a strong cast to back it up. And Scafaria found it.
Leading the pack are actress Constance Wu and singer/actress Jennifer Lopez. Wu takes on the role of Destiny, a single-mum stripper and mastermind of the scheme to scam and rob rich guys, while Lopez plays Ramona, a veteran stripper and Destiny’s mentor who helps set up the scheme to support herself and other strippers.
Other cast members include Lili Reinhart, Keke Palmer, Julia Stiles, Trace Lysette, Madeline Brewer and even Cardi B and Lizzo.
Scafaria admits, “I was chasing Cardi before there was a movie, it was like two years of chasing Cardi on Instagram.”
“I was chasing Lizzo for like a year as well. Both of them are people that I was only dreaming would be in the movie. Of course, my job is made easier when Jennifer Lopez is starring in something and absolutely everybody wants to work with her, so that was my luck there.”
Even though this film would mark Cardi and Lizzo’s debut, Scafaria is very confident in their abilities to perform.
“I think musicians and singers, performers, they’re just naturally very great at timing and rhythm and they just kind of are natural-born actors,” she said. “Lizzo, she comes with so much personality, Cardi comes with so much personality. I wanted to write them characters that showed off their personalities, but I also wanted to make sure that they still felt like they were part of the world and part of the ensemble and that nobody’s sticking out and everybody is still existing in the same movie.”
In an effort to bring out the best of her cast, she encouraged the actresses to “improvise and feel very fluid and free”. It’s clear that she valued realness and authenticity over anything else.
“There’s a scene where there’s 15 girls in a locker room all talking to each other, and we wanted it to feel like real, natural dialogue and the ways that girls talk over each other,” she said.
She also had nothing but praise for Cardi B and Lizzo: “They’re real actors. I was blown away by their natural ability and the energy that they all got from each other, and then seeing them interact with each other and the chemistry that they all had is pretty incredible.”
Besides that, the cast also needs to nail the stripping part to look like believable professional strippers. According to Scafaria, the training was hard for all the stars including herself. She joined Wu in a “liquid motion” class. Even Lopez, who’s been dancing since she was 5, didn’t feel that it was easy.
“It’s so athletic, it requires muscles you don’t know that you have,” she said. “That gave Jennifer a brand new respect for these dancers. She’s been dancing her whole life and she was just bruised after it, being iced down. It’s really, really hard.”