Hustle's Juancho Hernangomez Was Asked About The Hardest Scenes To Shoot With Adam Sandler And Co. And His Response Is Not What I Would Have Guessed

Netflix’s heavily lauded sports drama Hustle is a brilliant showcase for lead actor Adam Sandler, but it also gifts viewers with a sweet performance from co-lead Juancho Hernangómez, who plays aspiring basketball star Bo Cruz. The real-life Utah Jazz player presented some solid chops in his professional acting debut while also showing off his sweet skills on the court. Hernangómez had a number of meaty scenes in the film and recently discussed the ones that he found to be the most challenging. And if I’m being totally honest, his response isn’t what I would’ve guessed. 

When you're working on a movie for the first time, one would think that there’s a serious learning curve to overcome. A performer has to follow direction and build chemistry with co-stars among other things. Also, if you’re a first-time actor like Juancho Hernangómez, you may have to train yourself (and get outside help) on the more nuanced aspects of the craft. With all of that, I’d have thought that Hernangómez would have found in comfort in the basketball sequences, though it turns out those were the hardest for him to perform:

Actually, the basketball scenes! I mean, I’m 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.

Basketball is a tough sport, no doubt about it. However, before reading the comments the star shared with Variety, I would’ve assumed that the NBA vet would’ve had no problem getting it in on the court. Personally, I’d find being on the receiving end of trash talk from Anthony Edwards (who plays Bo’s rival, Kermit Wilts) to be more difficult.

His sentiments are understandable, though, as he’s clearly used to playing ball in a continuous fashion and not having to redo things so that they could be shot from different angles. Just thinking about all of the takes he probably had to do during the shoot is enough to make me tired. But ultimately, he pushed through, and I, like so many others, am incredibly grateful for his contributions.

Not only was the athlete's game on point, but the cameras that were capturing it were as well. Hustle director Jeremiah Zagar, who’s already itching to work with another of his NBA co-stars, put a lot of thought into how he wanted to film the basketball sequences. He told our own ReelBlend podcast that he and his DP, Zak Mulligan, couldn’t find any cinematic “model” for what they hoped to achieve on film. As a result, they drew heavily from Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull to help inform how they’d shoot the basketball sequences. 

Their efforts definitely paid off in a big way, as their tight shot selections are prominent throughout the on-court sequences. This includes the wild scene that sees Juancho Hernangómez’s Bo Cruz play in construction boots as Adam Sandler’s impressed Stanley Sugarman looks on. That segment, which Hernangómez described to us as “crazy,” also took some time to pull off, and I’m amazed that he was able to spend hours playing defense while wearing boots. 

Now that the NBA player has gotten his sea legs, he’s probably prepared for any future basketball a movie may call upon him to perform. Considering the strong effort he put in for Hustle, one can only hope that Juancho Hernangómez will get another opportunity to show his stuff in future feature films. 

Hustle, which is one of 2022’s biggest new movie releases, is now streaming for those with Netflix subscriptions.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.