US Weekly

Keke Palmer and Constance Wu tell Us how they prepped for the pole in Hustlers.

Constance Wu and Keke Palmer tell Us about making it rain in their new film

- Constance & Keke

To prep for her role as a stripper in

Hustlers, Constance Wu pulled out all the stops. She took poledancin­g classes and had private coaching sessions, worked with consultant­s, watched YouTube videos and befriended profession­al erotic dancers. She even had a stripper pole installed in her home. “It’s

not there anymore,” she tells Us with a laugh. Her costar Keke Palmer took a different approach, taking one class but mostly relying on her own experience­s going to strip clubs — a rite of passage growing up in Atlanta and Miami. “I’ve been going since I was 18,” she reveals. “Strip clubs are like lounges, so you’ll see a girl doing these unbelievab­le acrobatic moves while you’re eating lobster.” Despite their different prep methods, Wu says she and Palmer, and the entire Hustlers cast — which includes Jennifer Lopez (who also produces), Lili Reinhart, Julia Stiles, Cardi B and Lizzo — were on the exact same page once filming began. “We had such a great time on

set,” says the Crazy Rich

Asians star, 37. While the film (which hits theaters Sept. 13) is inspired by a

New York magazine article based on the true story of struggling strippers who scam wealthy Wall Street clients, the behind-thescenes vibe was lightheart­ed. Wu says she had an especially tough time keeping a straight face around Palmer. “She’s so funny. It was hard for me to not break character.” Confirms Palmer, 26, “Constance would be like, ‘You can’t say that, you’re going to make me laugh.’” Here, the actresses bare all to Us, revealing who refused to wear a G-string, how Cardi fared in her first big role and the beauty of a fully female cast.


“Talk about owning the stage,” Wu marvels about the star, 50, who has a particular­ly showstoppi­ng number. “It was so much fun to watch, and it just proves what an incredible artist she is, how much commitment she has.” Palmer went into fullblown fangirl mode, she says: “I grew up watching her. Now, as an adult, I’ve realized she’s a boss. She produced this movie that was written and directed by a woman, and stars women of all different cultures and shapes and sizes. Working with her was a dream come true.”


When it comes to stripper gear, “I wanted to get as skimpy as I could but still toe the line,” says Palmer about her character’s outfits. For the Scream

Queens actress, G-strings were out, but velour sweatsuits — the film takes place in the late 2000s — were in. “I was like,

Baby Phat, yes! Let’s get back into it.” Wu says she’s not “naturally inclined” to dress like her onscreen alter ego, Destiny, “but I had to think about her and what she might feel sexy in. At the end of the day, you just have to dive in.”


Former stripper

Cardi B was an invaluable resource for the cast. “She understand­s the culture, which is why I felt so lucky to work with her,” says

Wu. “She’s also such a fun person!” Palmer says Cardi was a total pro who “jumped right in,” but was a little surprised by the long hours: “She was like, ‘We’re still on the same scene?!’ I was like, ‘Yeah, girl! This is how it is!’”


The feminine energy on set was in full force, and Palmer says writerdire­ctor Lorene Scafaria made sure the female characters were represente­d respectful­ly. “She shot in a way where you have women in these power positions looking dope,” she explains. Adds Wu, “In a patriarcha­l society, women are afforded only one piece of pie, so you’re going to compete over it. With Hustlers, the male [characters] barely had names, so there was zero competitio­n.” The experience, she says, was freeing. “We didn’t have to pretend to be one of the boys — we could just be ourselves, and appreciate each other as women. It was our safe space.” •

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loved each other,” Wu tells Us about the ensemble cast.
“Everyone really loved each other,” Wu tells Us about the ensemble cast.
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