The actor insisted on reading the script, even after her agent said only less-than-flashy roles were available.
Julia Stiles was determined to be a part of filmmaker Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers, even if it meant working in craft service. In the 20 years since she rose to stardom in 10 Things I Hate About You, a pillar in the romantic comedy genre, Stiles hasn’t had to resort to a “whatever it takes” mentality to land a role, but that’s how intrigued she was by Jessica Pressler’s New York Magazine article, “The Hustlers at Scores,” which Scafaria adapted into Hustlers.
Despite being told by her agent that only a less-flashy role was available in the film, Stiles insisted on reading the script, which concluded with her asking Scafaria for an opportunity in any capacity. As it turned out, she’d be playing the part of Elizabeth, a character inspired by the very journalist who piqued her interest in the first place — Jessica Pressler.
“I reached out to her over Instagram, and I said, ‘I’m playing you in this movie, I think we should meet,’” Stiles says. “We both have young kids and didn’t have babysitters, so I was, like, ‘Well, what if we have a playdate?’ So, I brought my son to her apartment in Queens, and he proceeded to destroy her living room while we talked about point A to point B. There were a lot of things that I took away from talking to her.”
The film, which also stars Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez, has become a bona fide hit, opening to $33.2 million over the weekend.
It’s rather fitting that Stiles felt creatively invigorated in the same year that celebrated the 20th anniversary of her breakout performance opposite Heath Ledger in 10 Things I Hate About You, an experience she looks back on with fondness.
“Oh, it was so fun. We were staying at the Sheraton in Tacoma, Washington, but we made it like the Shangri-La,” the actress recounts. “No one was jaded, and everyone was open-hearted. … And Heath — he was this bad boy that came in from Australia, and I think he was the eldest of our group. … Heath kind of led the pack.”
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