Original-Cin Q&A: Hustlers' Constance Wu talks pole dancing, J-Lo, Cardi B and why women are tagged as 'catty'

Hustlers, staring Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu and a gaggle of other Hollywood heavyweights, had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The film, which opened over the weekend is written and directed by Lorene Scafaria and was inspired by a New York magazine article, which followed a crew of savvy former strip club employees who banded together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients.

It’s a love-it-or-hate it project. The film is getting mixed reviews, but most praise the performances of J-Lo and Wu. We last saw Wu in Crazy Rich Asians, and she’s back at work on the sixth season of her hit TV series, Fresh off The Boat. 

Original-Cin’s Bonnie Laufer sat down with Constance Wu to chat about her preparation for the role and her awe of co-star Jennifer Lopez. 

Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu get into Hustlers mode.

Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu get into Hustlers mode.

(To WATCH Bonnie’s interview with director Lorene Scarfaria click here

ORIGINAL-CIN:  It’s known that you wanted to be in Hustlers badly enough to video your audition for director Lorene Scafaria. But once you got the role of Destiny, what was your preparation process like? 

 CONSTANCE WU: “A lot of people wonder how I prepared for the stripping and pole work, all of the physical aspects of the character. And I did that hard core for three months.

“But that was not what really interested me. I was more invested and interested in the emotional life of the character and her heart. I really cared about the character  and I think that these women are  in a profession where society judges them. And I wanted to make sure that I didn’t do that.  

“I feel that the only way to do that is to look deeper into a character’s heart, and so that was the primary focus for me. Although the physical stuff was important, I just didn't want it to be a glitzy film. It had to have a heart and I think that’s what gave it legs for me. So that’s what I focused on.“

OC: You still had to dig deep to look at the lives of these women who were being portrayed. 

CW: “Absolutely, I befriended a lot of real life strippers to try and find out as much as I could about what they do and why they do it. It was a real learning experience.”

OC: This movie stars some pretty famous Hollywood women. Was the bonding on set immediate? It had to have been an entirely different experience than other projects you have worked on. 

CW:  “It was a little different because of the nature of the film. The thing that we had was the incredible freedom to just be ourselves and that’s what I think translated on screen because it was all women.  

“So often in movies, or board meetings or Hollywood in general, there is usually only a position for one woman. People get competitive if they think that there is only this one position so they start acting like they are one of the boys, or they start acting coquettish and cute and unassuming. 

“They feel like they have to manipulate parts of themselves  in order to get one slice of the pie. In this movie, because we are all women there was NO competition.  

“We were making the pie together so that whole stereotype about women being catty and competitive, that’s a comment on scarcity, not gender. And this movie really proved that. For me,  for once, it was just so freeing that  I didn’t feel like I had to act like one of the guys to be respected. “

OC:  I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like to watch Jennifer Lopez give you a private performance on the stripper pole. We all know that she is in incredible shape and has incredible discipline but to see her do what she does in this movie at 50 years of age is quite inspiring. 

CW:  “It was insane and so inspiring. I actually didn’t want her to stop dancing, I was just mesmerized. Talk about skill and commitment. That woman is unstoppable. “

 OC: You had to give Cardi B a lap dance and she was an actual stripper in real life.  Was that in any way intimidating? 

CW: (laughs) “ It was humbling! To my credit, my character was not supposed to be that good, so I fulfilled my part in that role!”