Adam Sandler Explains Why He Took on Challenge of Basketball Drama Hustle

Posted 2022/05/10 5 0

Hustle is an upcoming movie directed by Jeremiah Zagar and stars Adam Sandler. While Sandler is an actor primarily known for his comedic works, such as Happy Gilmore, Hustle will be one of his more dramatic works. Something in the vein as his highly-raised performance as Howard Ratner in Uncut Gems.

“It had a lot of deep scenes that connected with me, playing a guy who’s just been working hard his whole life and not getting exactly what his goal was, being overlooked and people at work getting in his way. A lot of people have dealt with this in their life. I knew this movie was a different feel for me, but it’s kind of a combination of stuff I’ve done in the past and a newer version of who I am,” said Sandler during an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

Sandler plays Stanley Sugerman, the unlucky scout for the Philadelphia 76ers. Eventually, he stumbles upon the undiscovered talent while abroad in Spain. Without the approval of his team, Stanley decides to help this untested player take his shot at going pro, which will hopefully revitalize Stanley’s own career in the process.

“It’s very much a Rocky story and I’m not Mickey in it — there’s never gonna be another Mickey — but I like being that kind of guy, getting to talk to a young man and getting him fired up.”

Who’s in Hustle besides Adam Sandler?

The player that Stanley takes under his wing is Bo Cruz, who’s played by NBA forward Juancho Hernangómez. According to Sandler, finding Bo’s actor took place during the quarantine. He, Zagar, and writer Will Fetters would work on the script over Zoom and watch videotapes of auditioning basketball players. After seeing Hernangómez’s tape, they decided that he was a natural and that it all connected. He was a great player, a young guy, and still passionate about making a name for himself.

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“I really got close with Juancho, and I really feel like family with that guy. I could not believe how good of an actor the guy was, and how effortless it was, and how little it meant to him. At the end of the day, I would tell him, ‘Man, that was some good stuff!’ He’d go, ‘Oh, it was? OK, great, thanks, man.’ And then he’d just move on. He wouldn’t talk about it. It wasn’t his first passion, you know? He’s just kind of like, ‘I gotta go practice my basketball, man. I gotta get out of here.’ I think it helps a lot to not have that part of your brain that goes, ‘Oh my God, I hope I’m doing this right.’ [Acting] isn’t his life, so that kind of put him more at ease.”

LeBron James’ production company and producer Joe Roth were the ones who sent over the script to Sandler, who upon reading it, decided it was something he could get excited about. Besides him and Hernangómez, Hustle will be filled with cameos from NBA players and coaches. During the interview, Sandler said that he couldn’t thank everyone in this movie enough.

“Oh, my God, it was so many great moments for a guy like me who watches these guys. I played a little bit — they slowed the game down 90 percent so I could actually play with them. But I loved just talking to the guys. I got to meet a lot of coaches, and talk a lot of hoop. I know hoop, but I don’t know it like these guys. They know every historic moment and everything that’s going on. And now when I watch the games, I have literally like 15 teams I can pull for, because we all became friends.”

When asked who he was rooting for in the NBA playoffs right now, Sandler said that was a good question but one he was unable to answer. Since he is friends with everybody now, he’s happy for all of them. Plus, if he said one team, there’d be 14 other guys who’d be very upset with him. This interview with Entertainment Weekly has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

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