‘Hustle’: Adam Sandler Revealed How He Knew NBA Players Were Good Actors

Adam Sandler and the rest of the Hustle team had a good feeling about turning NBA players into actors. However, some audiences questioned whether or not they could pull it off. Sandler expanded on how they worked together, their ability to do improv, and their “loose” flow in front of the camera.

‘Hustle’ features Adam Sandler and a whole lot of NBA players

'Hustle' Ainhoa Pillet as Lucia, Maria Botto as Paola, Juancho Hernangomez as Bo Cruz and Adam Sandler standing in front of the NBA logo looking out at the court.
L-R: Ainhoa Pillet as Lucia, Maria Botto as Paola, Juancho Hernangomez as Bo Cruz and Adam Sandler | Scott Yamano/Netflix

Hustle drew a lot of audiences for the sports drama with a cast filled with Sandler and a bunch of NBA stars. Juancho Hernangómez received some of the most praise for his tremendous performance in the movie, especially for his skill at crying in the moment. He has the most to do and is able to dig deeper into varied emotions throughout the narrative.

However, Hustle also brings on a huge roster of other NBA players. This list includes Anthony Edwards, Kyle Lowry, Kenny Smith, Mark Jackson, Dr. J, Boban Marjanovic, Moe Wagner, Shaquille O’Neal, among many others. There are over 20 NBA stars to appear alongside Sandler in Hustle.

Adam Sandler explained how he knew these NBA players would be great in ‘Hustle’

Sandler appeared on the Dan Patrick Show to talk about his experience filming Hustle. They discussed some of the behind-the-scenes happenings, including what it was like working with NBA stars. Host Dan Patrick specifically wanted to know how Sandler knew that these NBA stars would be good enough actors to star in Hustle.

“I mean, you just assume,” Sandler said. “My man, Juancho, those guys were teammates. Juancho called Jeremiah [Zagar], who directed the movie, and said, ‘I think my teammate might want to play Kermit, the bad guy in the movie.’”

Sandler continued: “Then, we all talked about it. I said, ‘Anthony Edwards, man, that guy’s incredible.’ I knew he was already funny from just seeing him being interviewed and just everything he says kind of makes you laugh. That was it.”

“Those two just felt so relaxed together, so you’d say, ‘Try this, try that,'” Sandler recalled. “There was still written, there was stuff like, ‘What would you say in this situation?’  Then, they just felt loose together.”

The NBA players felt ‘loose’ in front of the camera

Patrick asked Sandler about how the energy was on the set of Hustle. These NBA stars have done plenty of interviews, but they aren’t trained in the art of acting. The host wanted to know how they were instructed to perform these scenes correctly.

“Man, it’s ridiculous,” Sandler said. “Every one of the guys who’s in the league that’s in the movie, you didn’t have to tell them much. They would not freeze up. They weren’t stiff, they were just naturally loose.”

Sandler continued: “Whatever was written, they would say, ‘Fine’. Then, you’d say, ‘Go ahead, say what you would say.’ They would kind of look at each other, ‘I think I would say this.’ ‘Go ahead, say that.’ They would just say it, feel loose, and just calm. Kyle Lowry, Matisse, all those guys in the gym, when they would just say their stuff, you’re just like, ‘Cool, man. You don’t have to do take two.’ They were just so relaxed.”

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