‘Hustle’ director says Adam Sandler was the one who suggested casting Anthony Edwards and explains how the NBA star became the film’s scene thief


'Hustle' director says Adam Sandler was the one who suggested casting Anthony Edwards and explains how the NBA star became the film's scene thief

  • Hustle director Jeremiah Zagar spoke to Insider about casting NBA star Anthony Edwards.

  • Edwards is a scene thief in the film as Heel Kermit Wilts.

  • Zagar said he brought “realism and swagger” to the role.

Adam Sandler might tempt Netflix viewers to click “Hustle,” but it’s Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Anthony Edwards who will leave a lasting impression.

In a movie starring some of the world’s biggest basketball stars playing themselves, Sandler and “Hustle” director Jeremiah Zagar had a different plan for Edwards.

Hustle delves into the ins and outs of the modern NBA world as Sandler plays Stanley, a Philadelphia 76ers scout who discovers a phenomenon named Bo Cruz (Juancho Hernangómez) while traveling abroad. When the 76ers have no interest in Cruz, Stanley leaves the team and decides to risk everything for Cruz, using his league connections to get him drafted into a team.

However, every good sports film needs a good paragraph to compete against the hero.

Midway through the film, Cruz crosses paths with Kermit Wilts, a high-profile draft prospect who shakes Cruz up with his talent on the court and his vicious trashy speeches.

This presented an interesting casting challenge. The person who would play Wilts not only had to be able to play as well as the Utah Jazz Power Forward – they also had to have similar acting skills.

(L-R) Juancho Hernangómez as Bo Cruz and Anthony Edwards as Kermit Wilts in Hustle.Scott Yamano/Netflix

“We didn’t cast Kermit until the second half of filming,” Zagar told Insider over the phone, explaining that the film was shot over two summers, with the second summer focusing on all of the basketball scenes.

“There were a few other NBA star names thrown around, but when Adam Anthony suggested it just seemed perfect,” Zagar added.

Since being drafted by the Timberwolves in 2020, Edwards has quickly become a favorite among NBA fans due to his charm and wit in his post-game interviews.

It certainly caught Sandler’s attention.

“I think Adam followed his press conferences and felt like he was in the mood,” Zagar said.

It also helped that Hernangómez was with the Timberwolves during Edwards’ rookie season, so they already had chemistry.

But to hone his raw acting talents, Edwards worked with Zagar’s longtime acting coach, Noelle Gentile, who helped the NBA star settle into his role.

Antony Edwards

Anthony Edwards plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves.AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

However, Zagar said Edwards had no hesitation in making Kermit Wilts his own.

“Anthony rewrote his lines with Juancho on the day of filming to make sure they felt like him,” he said.

As a result, Edwards became the film’s scene thief. He’s compelling as the film’s antagonist, going so far as to talk about Cruz’s daughter in the stands to get him off his game.

Zagar admitted that even during production he knew Edwards was gold.

“There’s this shot in the movie that’s a one where Bo Cruz walks in and meets Kermit for the first time,” Zagar recalled. “And the way Anthony was able to deliver his lines perfectly every time the camera moved is something experienced actors struggle with. So right away you were like, ‘Oh my God!’”

Anthony Edwards Jeremiah Zaga and Juancho Hernangómez chat on a basketball court

(L-R) Anthony Edwards, director Jeremiah Zaga and Juancho Hernangómez on the set of Hustle.Netflix

Zagar pointed out that while some will see Edward’s character as the villain in the film, he considers him more than that.

“If Kermit is just a villain, he’s uninteresting, but if he’s an anti-hero like I see him, if he’s more like Michael Jordan as a kind of two-dimensional character, he’s more exciting. That’s what Anthony brought.” Zagar said. “That realism and swagger.”

“If we were doing ‘Hustle 2’ it would be about him,” added the director. “That’s how I feel about it.”

Hustle is available now on Netflix.

Read the original article on Insider

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