We attended a special tastemakers reception and Q&A panel with the cast, director, and producers of “Hustlers” at MoMA. The hit movie currently has Oscar buzz for Jennifer Lopez’s performance.
“Hustlers” follows a band of New York strip club employees who, after the 2008 recession, target wealthy wall-street men to steal their money. This robin hood story is based on a Viral New York Magazine article that released in 2015 about the real women who pulled off this heist. The Q&A panel we attended feature director Lorene Scafaria, producers Jessica Elbaum and Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Actress and producer Jennifer Lopez, as well as Constance Wu, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, and Lili Reinhart.
There is a uniqueness about this movie. The women in the movie are anti-heroes, committing crimes by stealing from the people who have done harm to others with no repercussions. There are not a lot of movies out there where we get to see women operating in this morally grey area. “The whole idea of us being the bad guys and the good guys, so being the anti-heroes of the story kind of off-put a lot of men. You’re just not used to seeing it, we’re the ‘Good Fellas’ here” said Jennifer Lopez, “We are the badasses, but we’re also bad. Those complicated types of female characters are not something you always get to see.” And it’s easy to root for these women even though they are committing these crimes because they, like so many during the 2008 financial crisis, have been wronged. “I think it’s punching up in a way. Also, if you’ve lived through that time of the financial crisis and you’re familiar with what when down there at all, I think you can see that we’re all navigating this really broken value system,” said director Lorene Scafaria, “So I tend to have empathy for all of us who are navigating that. Women valued most for
their beauty, men valued most for their money and power, so I think that there’s something relatable for everyone, whether it’s about the hate the rich storyline that people grab onto, or if it’s a gender thing, or if it relates to capitalism in some way, it’s all something we’re living under.”
Julia Stiles talked about her role as Elizabeth, the fictional character representation of the real-life journalist Jessica Pressler who broke the story. “I actually really loved my role in the film. She’s the eyes and ears for the audience but she’s the one who has compassion for these women who are otherwise belittled.” Keke Palmer also talked about why she was drawn to working on this film. “Not to be redundant, but when I heard that it’s a movie about women hustlers, they’re strippers and they end up doing this stuff, it was interesting. Then when I heard that Jennifer was attached, I was like ‘Oh yeah that’s my girl, my down!’ But then when I met Lorene, that’s when I knew this movie was going to be even better than I thought it could be. I remember we met and usually you meet with the director or the writer for 30 or 40 minutes. We were talking for like 2 hours about any and everything. And I just really got the idea that she knew how she wanted to make this movie. And not even just from an emotional standpoint and great character development, but also visually. We’re getting kind of shots that only men
get in movies with them being badass, you never see the kind of DP work that allowed us to be powerful and strong!”
The movie also incorporates an amazing soundtrack. From Chopin, Fiona Apple, Lorde, and Usher, the movie uses this wide variety of music to not only choreograph the dances and performances but also to paint the themes and emotions wonderfully. The movie even features these artists in the movie, Like Cardi-B, Usher, Lizzo, and G-Easy. Producer Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas told a story about when Usher, Cardi-B, and Lizzo flew in for their scenes. “Jessica and I were upstairs, it was about 4 in the morning, it was the day before we wrapped and on this one day we had Cardi, Lizzo, and Usher all flying in. We were like ‘Will they make the planes, will everything work?’ So it was 4 in the morning, we had gotten up and said to the 300 extras, don’t put this on any social media, you’re with us, please be there, it’s 2007, it’s the last of the great nights, and we made this whole big announcement. So we’re upstairs at Video Village and we’re sitting there and she puts that Usher song on and Jennifer and Cardi and Lizzo and Constance, they’re on stage, you guys are dancing, and he’s throwing the money and extras are throwing the money -which we never got back- and we
were transported. I’ve never experienced this on a film, but that club in that moment, it was magic and it was real. Everyone was there, so there in the moment and it’s something I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.”
The Q&A panel with the cast and crew of “Hustlers” was great and gives a lot of perspective about the movie. The film is out now on digital and hits BD/DVD on December 10.