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How did Juancho Hernangómez get the part of Bo Cruz in ‘Hustle’?

Speaking to Variety this week, NBA player Juancho Hernangómez discussed how he got the role of Bo Cruz in the new Netflix movie.

Update:
Speaking to Variety this week, NBA player Juancho Hernangómez discussed how he got the role of Bo Cruz in the new Netflix movie.
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The outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic two years ago had a major role in Juancho Hernangómez becoming the co-star of the new Adam Sandler movie Hustle, which was released on Netflix earlier this month.

Hernangómez, a real-life NBA player with the Utah Jazz, plays Bo Cruz, a construction worker discovered on a Spanish basketball court by Sandler’s Stanley Sugerman, a talent scout with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Sugerman, whose ambition is to be promoted from scout to assistant coach at the 76ers, sets about moulding his rough-round-the-edges protégé into a prospect capable of making it in the US’ elite basketball league.

Hernangómez described as an on-screen “natural”

Hernangómez, whose brother, Willy, also plays in the NBA, has received praise for his performance, in a movie that has generally been well received by the critics.

The 26-year-old is described by Vulture’s Bilge Ebiri as “a natural on film”, while AV Club’s Courtney Howard writes that he “makes a formidable screen partner for Sandler, delivering vulnerability and nuanced grace”.

In Empire magazine, meanwhile, Amon Warmann says Hernangómez is “unsurprisingly great on the court while also nailing Cruz’s naive vulnerability when the focus switches from basketball to family”.

Juancho Hernangómez as Bo Cruz (left) and Anthony Edwards as Kermet Wilts in Hustle.
Full screen
Juancho Hernangómez as Bo Cruz (left) and Anthony Edwards as Kermet Wilts in Hustle.SCOTT YAMANO/NETFLIXScott Yamano/Netflix

“I never wanted to act”

Speaking to Variety this week, however, Hernangómez said he had no desire to go into acting, until covid-19 led to the suspension of the 2019/20 NBA season in March 2020.

I never wanted to act, it wasn’t my dream,” he said. “It’s still not my dream. My agent called me before covid trying to get me to do an audition for the movie but I was focused on basketball at the time. I told him no for like five months.

“But then covid hits, basketball stops and I have nothing else to do. I was in quarantine at my brother’s place and so bored. It was my sister who pushed me to do the audition.”

After an online audition process, Hernangómez says, he was summoned to Philadelphia ahead of filming, which began in the Pennsylvania city later in 2020.

I think there were two or three audition calls over Zoom. Adam was there from the start, he was watching all the calls and the very last one was with him.

“Then they told me I had to come to Philly in the summertime and they put me in touch with an acting coach. Her name is Noëlle Gentile and as soon as I met her, she was one of the best people I ever met. She worked so much with me, all summer we were doing three or four zoom calls a week. Everything I did right was because of her.”

Hardest scenes? “Actually, the basketball!”

Asked which aspects of his role he found the most challenging, Hernangómez said: “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.”

Hustle: check out the trailer

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