Inspired by the real-life story of a band of New York City strippers who turned the tables and stole thousands from their Wall Street clients, producer-star Jennifer Lopez got into character as the group's ringleader, Ramona, by training with a portable stripper pole she transported with her from city to city.
"It's terrifying to a certain extent," she tells EW of her first scene in the film — a tantalizing striptease to "Criminal" by Fiona Apple. "Then, you go out there and do it and own the room, and they're throwing money at you. You're like, that's right, I'm in charge, I'm in control here, and you take that money and go, 'I won.'"
Constance Wu leads Hustlers as Destiny, a misfit waitress-turned-dancer who falls in platonic love with Ramona's confidence. Their exploits together might look like a man-hating, patriarchal takedown on the surface, but the story's value lies in its rare depiction of the complicated, complex bonds forged by women like Destiny, forced to hustle on the fringe in a world that values them only for their bodies.
"She's been looking for someone like Ramona her whole life. Ramona is the party, and Destiny is the person who's wanted to be invited to the party," explains Wu. "The fact that they worked so well together, fit together, and fell in love with each other, they filled a void — especially what Destiny needed, Ramona understood that," Lopez adds.
Her love don't cost a thing, but across a 36-year career as a bankable actress, hitmaking singer, and successful producer, Jennifer Lopez has more than paid her dues in Hollywood. And, if early buzz out of the Toronto International Film Festival is any indication, Jenny from the block might be looking at her first Oscar nod at the top of 2020.
"I hope it happens for Jen," Wu says of her costar's Oscar chances. "I think she deserves it for her whole life, really."
"She has a vulnerability that's beautiful, but not in a way that she can't be strong. She can be; she's tough and brave on the low," Lopez observes of Wu. "I think Destiny had to be that, she just needed to help somebody bring that out in her. Constance is an open actress. Her emotions are accessible, whether it's anger or sadness, she's there, and she's present. [She had] all of those things, [and I knew] then we had chemistry, and it was going to be good."