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Why The Cast Of Hustlers Looks So Familiar

Directed by Lorene Scafaria, Hustlers is a 2019 caper based on a 2015 New York magazine piece, titled The Hustlers at Scores. Written by Jessica Pressler, this scandalous article detailed how a group of New York city strippers, led by ringleaders Samantha Burbash and Rosie Keo, stole enormous sums of money from rich Wall Street guys, drugging their drinks and running up their credit cards. In other words, it sounds like the makings for a fantastic movie.

Obviously, Scafaria's film is going to be full of talented actresses, putting their con artist charms on display. And with the movie sliding into theaters on September 13, it's time to take a look at the super impressive cast. After all, Scafaria has assembled a dream team of sorts to fill out the film, consisting of modern hip-hop artists, up-and-coming TV actresses, and even a few fading stars. So let's find out why the cast of Hustlers looks so familiar.

Jennifer Lopez is playing Ramona in Hustlers

Jennifer Lopez has been a household name for well over a decade. The Bronx-raised beauty's meteoric rise to stardom in the '90s took many forms, spanning from the recording booth to the silver screen. Her first starring role was that of the titular character in 1997's biopic, Selena, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination.

In the early 2000s, J-Lo's music career really took off thanks to chart-topping hits like the Ja Rule-assisted "I'm Real" and "Ain't It Funny." With her newfound fame, Lopez was able to land starring roles in rom-coms like The Wedding Planner, Maid in Manhattan, Gigli, and Monster-in-Law. She also proved that she could tackle more dramatic material by starring in intense thrillers like EnoughParker, and The Cell.

With a reported $43 million earned in 2019, it's safe to say that J-Lo's career has far from fizzled over the past 20 years. Although her latest big release, 2018's Second Act, didn't exactly wow audiences, Lopez hopes to prove she can still headline great movies with Hustlers, where she'll playing Ramona, who seems to be based off real-life ringleader Samantha Burbash. 

In fact, when writer/director Lorene Scafaria finished working on the Hustlers script, she had an epiphany of sorts. Speaking with Vulture, Scafaria said, "The moment I finished the script, I realized: Oh my god, Ramona is Jennifer Lopez. ... The two of them are the same; they have all of these similar qualities. It has to be her."

If Destiny looks familiar, that's because she's played by Constance Wu

Before 2018, Constance Wu was perhaps most known as the pragmatic Jessica Huang in ABC's popular-yet-fading sitcom, Fresh Off the Boat. However, everything changed for the up-and-coming starlet when the undeniably charming Crazy Rich Asians hit theaters in August 2018, pulling in over $200 million at the worldwide box office and becoming the highest-grossing romantic comedy in a decade. In addition to a Golden Globe win for her portrayal of the lead, Rachel Chu, the experience opened more doors for Wu in Tinseltown. Speaking with Vanity Fair, the actress said, "Before I didn't have much choice in the roles I was allowed to even audition for. ... I'm having so much more choice in my career now and it really is such a privilege to take agency."

For her part in Hustlers, Wu will be playing Destiny, a new-to-the-game stripper who learns the ropes from the experienced Ramona (Lopez). Interestingly enough, Wu actually had a different mentor on set. When speaking to Entertainment Weekly, the 37-year-old actress admitted that co-star Cardi B, who used to strip in real life before making it big in hip-hop, didn't sugarcoat things when witnessing Wu's initial attempt at lap dancing. As Wu explained, "[We filmed] a scene where she's teaching me how to give a lap dance. She's like, 'Show me what you've got!' So, I try. She's like, 'Honey, no! This is terrible!'"

Julia Stiles is showing up as Elizabeth

If you feel as though you haven't seen Julia Stiles on the silver screen for a long time, you're not wrong. The last time the Golden Globe-nominated actress appeared in a mainstream movie was alongside Matt Damon and Alicia Vikander in 2016's Jason Bourne, reprising her long-standing role as Nicky Parsons in the action franchise. Since then, she's played Georgina Clios, the main character in the British TV series Riviera, but not much else.

Although studio execs have seemingly lost her phone number over the past few years, Stiles was undoubtedly one of the "it girls" in the late '90s and early 2000s. Her portrayal of the shrewd Katarina in 1999's 10 Things I Hate About You is perhaps her most memorable role, largely due to her undeniable chemistry with the late Heath Ledger. Still, you can't forget her other hits like 2001's Save the Last Dance and 2003's Mona Lisa Smile. She also played Lumen Ann Pierce in Showtime's serial killer series, Dexter.

Stiles is poised for a major return to the big screen in Hustlers, a film she was reportedly thrilled to be a part of. "I was dying to be a part of this movie," Stiles told Entertainment Tonight. "I told Lorene Scafaria, the director, when we met, 'I will do anything. I will do craft service, I will make coffee for the crew, I don't care. I just want to be a part of it, because it's such an interesting story.'" Looks like she got her wish!

Keke Palmer is playing Mercedes

Keke Palmer was introduced to the Hollywood lifestyle when she was just a kid, playing the lead in 2006's uplifting spelling bee drama, Akeelah and the Bee. This breakout role helped catapult her into the role of True Jackson in Nickelodeon's sitcom, True Jackson, VP, where she became one of the highest-paid child stars on TV, earning a reported $20,000 per episode.

As she got older, the Illinois-bred starlet tried to shake her child-star reputation, taking parts in more mature projects. She played Coral in a few episodes of Showtime's Masters of Sex, and she portrayed Zayday Williams in Ryan Murphy's gory slasher series, Scream Queens. One of her more recent films was 2018's Pimp, where she played Wednesday, a struggling female pimp in the Bronx. Not exactly the kind of story you'd see on the Disney Channel.

Although the film hasn't hit theaters yet, Palmer's performance as Mercedes in Hustlers has apparently already won over one individual in particular. When speaking with Billboard, Jennifer Lopez declared that Palmer was the co-star that impressed her most. Why? "Because she was great at improv, and not everybody has that knack. ... I did a little bit of research on her when they were thinking [about her role]. ... But when I saw her ... I was like, 'This girl has something. She has personality.'" When J-Lo is showering you with such praise, you must be doing something right.

Lili Reinhart is appearing as Annabelle

Lili Reinhart knew she wanted to be an actress from a young age. In an interview with Teen Vogue, the up-and-comer from Cleveland, Ohio, discussed finishing high school online so she could make auditioning her top priority. "I didn't want to do anything else. It's not just a hobby. It's what I want to do forever as a career. There was no Plan B."

This unyielding determination undoubtedly helped the gorgeous starlet land parts in various projects throughout her late teens, ranging from indie flicks like The First Hope and The Kings of Summer to small bits in network shows, such as Fox's Surviving Jack. Reinhart's career hit the big-time in 2017 when she was cast as Betty Cooper in the CW's darker, sexier adaptation of the Archie comics, Riverdale. As Betty, Reinhart has become one of the more recognizable faces on TV.

Coincidentally, Riverdale actually provided Reinhart with some unexpectedly useful experience for her future career. In one of the show's more controversial scenes, Betty performs a promiscuous pole dance at a bar in order to join a gang. Roughly two years later, Reinhart is playing a stripper on the big screen for Hustlers. The irony is not lost on the actress, who addressed the coincidence at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con. As she put it, "It was an audition, and I didn't even know it."

Cardi B is going to shine as Diamond in Hustlers

If you're casting a movie about real-life strippers, it kind of makes sense to hire at least one real-life stripper, right? Perhaps that's why Hustlers' director Lorene Scafaria knew she had to get rap sensation Cardi B, who was a one-time New York stripper. And evidently, Scafaria was quite determined to land the star, telling Vulture that she "chased Cardi for two years."

Although Hustlers will be the big screen debut for Cardi, whose real name is Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar, she's one of the most recognizable faces in the world right now. The rap vixen first burst onto the scene with her unapologetic smash hit "Bodak Yellow," a track that made history as the longest-running chart-topper by a solo female artist on Billboard's Hot 100. Capitalizing on that hype, Cardi's debut album, Invasion of Privacy, went on to win Best Rap Album at the 61st Grammy Awards.

The first Hustlers trailer was smart to showcase Cardi's character in the film, all while being set to her raunchy single, "Money." However, it sounds as though the rapper/singer won't play a very big part in the movie. When speaking to Cosmopolitan, her fellow co-star, Madeline Brewer, indicated that the "I Like It" singer was only on set for one day due to scheduling difficulties. Regardless, proud Bardi Gang members will be excited to see their idol on the big screen, no matter how long she's up there for.

Lizzo is going to be Liz

If you thought Cardi B was the only hip-hop star to dance on stage in Hustlers, you'd be wrong. Detroit's Melissa Jefferson, who's better known as Lizzo, is a singer/rapper who's really caught fire over the past year. With smash hits like "Juice," "Truth Hurts," and "Good as Hell," Jefferson has resonated with audiences in large part due to her body positive lyrics and head-chick-in-charge vibes.

Although, like Cardi, Hustlers will be Lizzo's first time actually appearing on the big screen, she does have some experience in Hollywood. She voiced Lydia in 2019's UglyDolls, a kids' film that majorly bombed at the box office. She also appeared as a guest judge on RuPaul's Drag Race in 2018.

In a recent interview with Cosmopolitan, the at-times erotic lyricist dished about her character in Hustlers, saying, "Her name is Liz, and she is a flute-playing stripper. It was like it was literally written for me. ... She's the loud one. She lets all the girls know what's up. ... It was really, really easy to get into that character." Sounds like perfect casting, indeed.

Madeline Brewer is starring as Dawn

New Jersey's Madeline Brewer struck gold with her first acting gig, playing Tricia Miller in the critically-acclaimed first season of the Netflix series, Orange Is the New Black. After her character left OITNB, the actress continued to land roles in various television series. She played Miranda Cates in Netflix's Hemlock Grove, Billie Trump in NBC's Grimm, and Agatha in Fullscreen Media's The Deleted. In 2017, Brewer's career was bumped up to a whole new level when she was cast as Janine Lindo in Hulu's Golden Globe-winning drama, The Handmaid's Tale, arguably her most renowned role.

When speaking to Cosmopolitan, the award-winning actress shared a story about her time on the set of Hustlers, where she was playing the character of Dawn. Brewer admitted that, while shooting a pivotal scene, she was incredibly nervous, but she got some comforting reinforcement from a major co-star. As she said, "I was, like, visibly shaking. J-Lo, at one point, just grabbed my hand. She's like, 'You're doing great.' It was really, really nice."

Trace Lysette has taken the role of Tracey

Growing up in Dayton, Ohio, was not the most welcoming environment for an openly transgender woman like Trace Lysette. But despite all the obstacles she had to overcome, the actress managed to break into Hollywood, first appearing in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 2013.

Since her debut appearance, Lysette has continued to find work in the television industry. She played Gisele alongside Patrick Stewart in Starz' Blunt Talk, and she's appeared a couple of times in Comedy Central's hilarious Drunk History. Her breakout role, however, came as Shea in Amazon Prime's award-winning dramedy, Transparent.

Casting Lysette in Hustlers was practically a must, given her very specific background. Talking with Women's Health, Lystette explained, "When I heard about the movie ... I sent out a tweet that said: 'I danced at SCORES in NYC (the club that this movie is about) for 8+ yrs ... I cannot wait for this film, and I would absolutely LOVE to be part of it somehow, someway.' I tagged Lorene Scafaria, who wrote and directed the film, and we had lunch and hit it off." In other words, it's almost like she's playing a younger version of herself.

Steven Boyer is going to pop up as Doug

Although he isn't exactly a household name yet, Ohio's Steven Boyer is no stranger to big-time studio productions. He's appeared in critically-acclaimed films films like The Wolf of Wall Street and Bridge of Spies, and he's also played roles in episodes of Law & Order, Orange Is the New Black, and The Blacklist.

Boyer held the recurring role of Jerry Gorsch in the sixth season of Chicago Fire, but perhaps his biggest break actually came in 2017, when he was cast as the hilariously clueless private investigator, Dwayne Reed, on NBC's mockumentary, Trial & Error. Although the series was relatively well-received by fans and critics alike, it was officially cancelled in January 2019. Here's hoping things go a whole lot better with Hustlers where he'll be playing a character by the name of Doug. So yeah, if the guy's face seems familiar, just remember that you've probably seen him in something like Did You Hear About the Morgans, Listen Up Philip, or The Good Wife.

Hustlers features an Oscar-winning Mercedes Ruehl

Rounding out the wide-ranging cast of Hustlers is the highly-prestigious Mercedes Ruehl, who won an Oscar in 1992 for her performance as video store owner Anne Napolitano in The Fisher King. Although details about her role in the upcoming strip-club drama are being kept under wraps, her very presence adds intrigue to the film.

Don't mistakenly think that Ruehl is a one-hit wonder. In the late '80s and early '90s, the New York-bred actress starred in a copious amount of movies, including classics like Big, Married to the Mob, and The Last Action Hero. She also played Kate Costas in a handful of Frasier episodes. Most recently, she has played Connie Teresi on the gritty crime drama Power.

In 2018, Ruehl returned to the stage, starring alongside Michael Urie in the Broadway play, Torch Song. In the play, she starred as Mrs. Beckoff, the loving mother of the main protagonist, Arnold. When speaking to Theater Mania, Ruehl explained what it's like to feel the audience's presence while performing. "You can feel a warm encircling of the audience, which is really nice. ... I think, in dark times, what we need as audiences is something with laughter, with hope, and where the element of love sears through everything." While Hustlers might not be that emotional, we're definitely excited to see Ruehl back on the big screen.