Adam Sandler’s love for basketball and attraction to a strong script were two significant factors in steering the actor to Hustle, his acclaimed new comedic sports drama in which he stars as travel-worn Philadelphia 76ers scout Stanley Sugerman who bets his career on a diamond-in-the-rough prospect (Juancho Hernangómez) he discovers on the streets of Spain.
The fact that he also got to work with his longtime friend Queen Latifah, who plays Stanley’s wife Teresa, was a major signing bonus.
“Me and the Queen, we’ve been tight for a long time,” Sandler, 55, tells us a recent press event for the film, where he was joined by Latifah, 52 (watch above).
“I love [her]. It was an absolute joy. Whenever the Queen would show up on the set, anytime, any place we were, people, look [and say], ‘That's the Queen, man.’ It's good energy. She makes people happy, and [is] nice to everybody… I mean, that was just a good vibe, man.”
There were pros for Latifah in working with her old friend, too.
“I was like, ‘One day he’s gonna rub my feet,’” cracks the rapper-turned-actress, referencing a scene that demonstrates the pair’s warm marriage.
Latifah reciprocated the love-fest, though: “He's amazing,” she says of Sandler. “And you know, to watch him all these years do his thing and just give us so much joy and entertainment… is also just amazing.”
Playing spouses meant the pals did have to pucker up, though.
“During rehearsal, I kissed probably harder with the mask on,” Sandler laughs. “He was ready,” Latifah responds.
Neither thought it was awkward, though. “We were kind of relaxed with it,” Sandler says. “We were comfortable. I think those were the easier things,” Latifah agrees.
Director Jeremiah Zagar (We the Animals) relished in witnessing their chemistry.
“Adam wanted to work with her and I loved the idea,” he tells us. “I mean, I think they feel like a real Philly couple, and I think that's what's cool about it. And Queen has the same thing that Adam has, which is that movie star glow with an everywoman feel. And I think that's a really special quality. And together they're just so funny and sweet.”
Hustle is now playing in select theaters and streaming on Netflix.
— Video produced by Jen Kucsak and edited by Schuyler Stone
Watch the trailer: