Entertainment Celebrity Jennifer Lopez on the hardest part about playing a stripper in Hustlers
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Jennifer Lopez on the hardest part about playing a stripper in Hustlers

Lili Reinhart Jennifer Lopez Keke Palmer Constance Wu
Lili Reinhart, Jennifer Lopez, Keke Palmer and Constance Wu in stripper heist movie Hustlers. Photo: Gloria Sanchez Productions
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At 50, Jennifer Lopez doesn’t drink alcohol, eats “clean”, according to her trainer Tracy Anderson, and working out every day “is definitely a priority”, the star says.

“Dance has always been a huge part of my life and taking the time to move my body and do something that’s so good for me is key to my happiness.”

Jennifer Lopez Hustlers
Lopez hits it as Ramona in Hustlers. Photo: Gloria Sanchez Productions

So, she’s super fit and athletic. Yet when Lopez played stripper Ramona in new movie Hustlers – which received rave reviews this week at its Toronto International Film Festival debut – she struggled with pole dancing.

At the start of the movie her character Ramona performs for three or four minutes to Fiona Apple’s Criminal, and the mother-of-two took a “crash course” to master the moves.

“It’s really tough,” Lopez told Variety about the dance style.

“That steel pole is unforgiving and you just have to figure it out.”

Her co-star Cardi B told Lopez it took “years” to learn to pole dance.

“Even my teacher said, ‘This is normal.’ I said, ‘This chafing is normal?’ It’s difficult. It’s funny walking in someone else’s shoes—you never know what it’s like. Until it’s you.”

In Hustlers, written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, mother-of-two Lopez plays the most powerful stripper at a New York club during 2008’s financial crisis.

The movie is loosely based on 2015 New York magazine story ‘The Hustlers at Scores’ by Jessica Pressler, about strippers who drugged wealthy clients and ripped them off.

“It’s a universal story about life and greed and desperation and what people do,” said the star, who has sparked Oscar buzz before the film even opens in the US this week (its Australian release date is October 10.)

No Latina has ever won the best actress Academy Award, but “it’s nice to be in the conversation, for sure,” Lopez said.

It’s been a big year for the thrice-married star: in March, she said yes when former baseballer Alex Rodriguez proposed.

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Hustlers is a stripper movie “from the neck up”, Scafaria told Vox.

“It’s such an incredible world to see from a perspective that we haven’t seen a lot of, even though there are strip clubs in every movie and TV show.

“So I was really excited to tell the story from [the strippers’] point of view.”

Film review site Rotten Tomatoes already has Hustlers sitting on a 96 per cent critics’ approval rating.

“Led by a command performance from Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers is a uniquely empowering heist drama with depth and intelligence to match its striking visual appeal,” was the site’s verdict.

Vanity Fair called the movie “dazzling” with a “stunning emotional core” and said Lopez is “deep into some of the best acting work” of her triple threat career, which kicked off in acting terms with 1995’s Money Train.

“It’s a bright stiletto stab toward equity, and in the process one of the best movies about American money in recent memory,” said the entertainment website.

To Forbes, “that it manages to tell a crime story about strippers without sensationalizing or patronizing its subjects is reason enough to tip the hat.”

Jennifer Lopez Constance Wu
Lopez and Constance Wu at Toronto’s Hotel Le Germain on September 8. Photo: Getty

Hustlers also stars Constance Wu, Julia Stiles and Keke Palmer.

“It’s a feminist story,” Wu told Variety.

“We’re taking women who have previously been judged and shamed by society, and getting to know them as people instead of as objects.

“I think that is the true spirit of feminism is humanity. And that’s what our movie goes after.”

Scafaria said it was tough to pitch her movie to male executives because while it’s “hard” to get any movie greenlit, “it’s especially hard to get movies made about women doing questionable things.”

Added Lopez, “About women, period.”

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