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The Untold Truth Of Hustle

After his critically acclaimed performance in "Uncut Gems," Adam Sandler grabbed the attention of audiences and critics once more with the release of his Netflix film "Hustle." Directed by Jeremiah Zagar, "Hustle" follows the story of NBA scout Stanley (Sandler) as he discovers an amazingly talented player from Spain, Bo Cruz. Together, they prepare Cruz for the NBA draft and develop a special bond along the way.

Cruz is portrayed by Juancho Hernangomez, a professional basketball player who plays forward for the Utah Jazz. He was a member of Team Spain when they won a gold medal at the 2019 FIBA World Cup (via Hollywood Life). So it stands to reason that he was the perfect choice for portraying a character with such raw talent for the game. But aside from Hernangomez's past, there are a lot of lesser known facts surrounding this film. We've compiled the best of the best to share, so get ready to dive into some fun facts you might not have known about the cast of "Hustle."

It generated the best reviews of Adam Sandler's career

"Uncut Gems" was a film that continued to boost Sandler's career from just funny buddy comedies to an actor with serious depth. However, "Hustle" has blown "Uncut Gems" out of the water. According to the Independent, Sandler's performance in "Hustle" has given the actor his best reviews to date. Not only did the film have an outstanding score on Rotten Tomatoes of 92%, but it also broke records with its audience score for the actor.

Fans are singing the film and Sandler's performance praise, giving the film an audience score in the mid 90s on Rotten Tomatoes. This is huge for the actor, as his other highly respected and praised projects have never received such a high audience score in the past. For example, "Uncut Gems" also received a 92% score on Rotten Tomatoes, but the fan score was only 52%. The same could be said for his other acclaimed project "The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)" which sits at 93% while the audience score is 72%. It's clear that "Hustle" is a record-breaking film for the actor.

Why one of the players wasn't from China

Sandler took part in a radio interview on "The Dan Patrick Show" in 2021 to discuss "Hustle." CinemaBlend detailed a part of the actor's interview where he shared some interesting behind-the-scenes news about working on set and with Netflix. Sandler recently signed a $250 million four-movie deal with the streaming platform, so he was able to share some first-hand knowledge that many don't know about the company.

In the original script of "Hustle," Sandler's character Stanley was supposed to find a player in China. However, Netflix asked the actor to make changes to the script. He revealed on "The Dan Patrick Show" that they asked him to change the location from China to Latin America or Europe, causing Sandler to pivot to Majorca, Spain. He shared that Netflix isn't in China due to some territorial concerns, so the cast was unable to film there.

Hustle supported the local community

"Hustle" was filmed in Philadelphia, where it showed off many local Philly places and monuments. According to the Inquirer, highlighting the local aspects of the city was a very important feature of the film. As the film's director Jeremiah Zagar is a Philly resident himself, it's no surprise that Zagar went out of his way to highlight Philadelphia's local spots.

The Inquirer was able to count a total of 30 filming locations within "Hustle," including popular monuments like the Wells Fargo Center and local educational centers like Manor College and Coatesville Area Senior High School. "Hustle" not only focused on major places in the city, but it also supported the local community. Zagar held casting calls for extras in the film, with tryouts being held at the 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington. That very location was also used in the movie — it's when Stanley learns that he has to go back on the road.

Juancho Hernangomez never expected to act

Juancho Hernangomez was born to be a basketball player. According to Variety, it's a family business, as both of his parents were players. But that's not all — his brother Willy plays for the New Orleans Pelicans while his sister Andrea plays for the youth team Estudiantes in Spain.

According to Hernangomez, basketball was his main career focus until the industry was hit by the pandemic, and forced a halt on all games. It was then that his agent tried to encourage him to take on smaller acting gigs, and while he was hesitant, he told Variety that his sister encouraged him to do it.

Hernangomez detailed that he auditioned for the part of Bo over Zoom approximately three times. He recounted Sandler being part of the process each time, but it was in his last audition that Sandler told Hernangomez he'd have to fly out to Philly to work with acting coach Noëlle Gentile. He detailed the close bond that he and Gentile now share, stating that she helped him not just with acting, but with life. He stated that her friendship was something that he'd value forever and that he'd always be there for her just as she was for him.

Adam Sandler's love of basketball

"Hustle" is one of Sandler's greatest projects to date, and this could be because the subject matter is so near and dear to his heart. Sandler himself is a huge basketball fan and was able to express his love for the sport in the film. Over the years, there have been various videos of Sandler joining complete strangers in a game of basketball — and you know what, he's pretty good! "Hustle" is a film that allows Sandler to mix together his passion for acting with his passion for basketball, and it's more ways than you might think.

Sandler's character Stanley brings Bo under his wing to teach him the mental and physical skills he needs to survive in the NBA. Stanley is someone who understands the business of basketball, much like Sandler understands the business of Hollywood. You need to be strong to go into either one of those industries, and that comes across in his outstanding performance.

LeBron James brought the script to Adam Sandler

LeBron James produced "Hustle" through his company SpringHill, and once he had the script, they approached Sandler for the role. This is likely due to Sandler's love for the game and close relation to the character Stanley which made him a shoo-in for the part.

Sandler told the Hollywood Reporter "they all knew I like to hoop. I heard the premise, and I read the script, and I was like, 'Yeah man, that sounds like something I'd be excited to do.'" He went on to discuss how helpful James was during production when it came to the NBA and specific basketball references. Whenever they needed or wanted to reach out to other players, James was there to ensure the process went quickly and smoothly.

While working on "Hustle," James and Sandler seem to have developed a friendly relationship. Sandler went on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" to promote the film, where he shared a cheeky moment between him and James with the audience. Sandler detailed that he asked James for basketball tips, prompting James to jokingly say that Sandler should get a full-body transplant. Ouch. Luckily, Sandler took the joke and rolled with it.

Adam Sandler gave Queen Latifah a gift

Queen Latifah stars in "Hustle" as Teresa Sugerman, Stanley's supportive wife. The two played an incredibly believable and heartfelt couple, promoting Latifah to sing her co-star praise and address their chemistry to E! News' Daily Pop. She said "The chemistry was already there to make this happen 'cause I love him, he loves me, we're crazy about each other ... That's my man, and I fight for my man."

Knowing how close the two are, it makes sense that Sandler would give his co-star the sweetest gift. Queen Latifah went on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (via The Hollywood Reporter) to promote the film, where she shared that she had complimented Sandler on a pair of sneakers. He immediately made sure that she got her own pair to match his upon asking her what shoe size she was. This prompted Latifah to ask Kimmel "How could you not love [Adam Sandler]?" She continued to discuss her co-star by saying that she respects Sandler for tackling projects outside of just his comfort zone of comedy, arguing that it's films like "Hustle" that allow audiences to see his range as an actor.

Juancho Hernangomez found an unlikely scene hard to shoot

As a pro basketball player, most would assume that Juancho Hernangomez would have had a difficult time tackling the acting portion of his role as Bo in "Hustle." However, that was not the case. He told Variety that he found the basketball moments to be the hardest scenes to shoot, which, if you think about it, sort of makes sense.

According to Hernangomez, he's someone that is "used to playing basketball but it was hard doing it over and over again and then waiting 30 minutes to change cameras. I'd sit down and have to warm up all over again. The stopping and starting was strange." As a basketball player, you're likely used to going on the court and putting everything you have out there. The idea that now you have to perform within a script would be difficult for most, but especially for a professional athlete. It sounds as though Hernangomez had to unlearn everything in order to nail his part in "Hustle." And luckily, he was able to do just that.

Juancho Hernangomez was not a fan of Adam Sandler's films

Hernangomez sat down with Entertainment Weekly to discuss his experience on the set of "Hustle." One of the most shocking and entertaining things to come out of the interview was his opinion on co-star Adam Sandler prior to working with him.

Hernangomez told Entertainment Weekly that while he did watch Sandler's films, he wasn't exactly a dedicated follower. "Coming from Spain, I know his movies, of course, but I never was a fan." Luckily, this changed once Hernangomez and Sandler met in person. He said that their chemistry together was instant, telling EW that "He loved me like his older son, and I looked at him like my dad. We had a good relationship in every way. He took care of me from the first day." Hernangomez shared that Sandler now texts him after every basketball game he watches, which is likely to be a lot of games.

Suffice to say, Hernangomez's respect for the actor and all that he's accomplished grew from the first moment they connected.

Hustle paralleled Adam Sandler's life

Although Sandler can relate to his character's love of basketball and the hard work it takes to break into a difficult industry, there are even more parallels between Sandler and his character Stanley. As he told E! News, Sandler feels a strong connection to the relationship his character shares with his wife Teresa, as it parallels the relationship Sandler has with his wife Jackie.

Sandler says "The character I played had some doubts on occasion, but he had a good wife, like I have a good wife [Jackie Sandler], who kind of helped him keep pushing." Family dynamics are at the heart of "Hustle," which also seem to be Sandler's driving emotion when it comes to all aspects of his life. When you take away the glitz and glamour of the job, Sandler has his wife. And at the end of the day, the same could be said for his "Hustle" character. Stanley and Teresa have each other.