It says something about how highly anticipated the trailer for Hustlers, which hits theaters on September 13, that it premiered at midnight—and only after days of teasers from its many, many stars. After all, even the photos that paparazzi took of Jennifer Lopez wearing a lip piercing and hanging out with her costars were essentially contenders for J.Lo’s best movie to date. In the trailer, too, Lopez is once again the star—and that’s saying something, given that the rest of the all-star cast includes Lizzo, Constance Wu, Lili Reinhart, Madeline Brewer, Keke Palmer, and Cardi B.
In the role of Ramona, Lopez plays the makeshift kingpin of a group of strippers who pull a Robin Hood on their Wall Street clients by drugging them and putting their credit cards to good use, from simply buying champagne to supporting their families. It’s also based on a true story—one that the journalist Jessica Pressler initially told in the article “The Hustlers at Scores”, which New York magazine published in 2015. (Thanks to Julia Stiles, Pressler even made it into the film, too.)
As for how the film’s director, Lorene Scafaria, turned what initially seemed like only an internet pipe dream into reality, they shared a bit of the backstory on Tuesday, ahead of the trailer’s release: “I chased Cardi for two years,” she told Vulture of the 26-year-old singer, who was a stripper before she became an A-list rapper and singer. (Four years after Scafaria reached out to Cardi B by sliding into her DMs, she’s not only starring in Hustlers, but making her official film debut.)
Alas, Cardi B only makes it into a few scenes in the trailer, which primarily focuses on Wu, who plays Destiny, a single mom who “just want[s] to take care of [her] grandma,” and Lopez, who plays her mentor of sorts, beginning with schooling her on the art of the strip pole. Before long, she’s giving the rest of her coworkers a pep talk: “These Wall Street guys, you see what they did to this country? They stole from everybody. Hard-working people lost everything. The game is rigged, and it does not reward people who play by the rules.”
Confident as Lopez appears on-screen, it also took quite a bit of work in real life to make Ramona a reality. “She’s obviously such an unbelievable dancer, but she trained so hard-core for this. Pole dancing is not like anything else. It required muscles you don’t know you have. So we did treat it a little bit like a sports movie in that way,” Scafaria told Vulture. After doing a bit of field research, by taking a trip to a strip club with her fiancé, Alex Rodriguez, J.Lo was even able to contribute some real-life “insights” to the director, too.