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At the Los Angeles premiere of The Hustle on Wednesday night, stars Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway revealed some surprising political and social inspirations behind their new film, which follows two women out to con a tech millionaire.
“Obviously I love female empowerment stories, and with what was going on socially in Hollywood and in America as a whole, I just really felt like now is the time for women to get back at the dirty, rotten men that have been conning them for decades,” Wilson told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet. “Originally we had the [movie] title as Nasty Women, so obviously it was formed around the time of Hillary Clinton and stuff.”
The Hustle is a reboot of the 1988 comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine. Wilson, who also served as a producer on the new film, had the idea of giving the story a female twist.
“I wouldn’t want to just gender-flip a movie. I wanted to have a real rationale for it, and I just got that feeling in my gut it was right to remake this one,” she said.
Hathaway, who stars as Wilson’s high-class partner in crime, said she had long wanted to work with the actress and came on board as soon as she asked. In a time of female empowerment in Hollywood, Hathaway also noted the importance of representation of all kinds and said that even includes women “being bad people. We have to be allowed to be all things.”
As an example beyond her own film, she brought up a recent episode of Killing Eve, in a scene where three female characters were “behaving from a self-serving, instinctive place that absolutely made no sense,” as Hathaway saw it.
“I actually had an emotional reaction when I saw that because I feel like women always have to be exemplary. We always have to be smarter than someone to justify our place or we have to have a better moral compass or we always have to be stronger or we have to be all of these really exemplary qualities,” she said. “We’re never allowed to just lose it and still be a hero, and I just thought that was amazing. I was so happy to be watching it.”
Jac Schaeffer, who wrote the script, said that the film was developed right before the #MeToo movement hit Hollywood. The wave of accusations against powerful men “started happening while we were on set, and it sort of felt like we were part of this larger zeitgeist groundswell.”
Inside the premiere, held at the ArcLight Hollywood, Hathaway and Wilson took the stage to pay homage to each other.
Wilson called Hathaway “the most versatile actress in Hollywood — she does comedy just as well as drama, just as well as singing.” Hathaway told her that “we’re here because you bet on yourself and you know there’s something special about you and you honor that again and again, and I’m really happy that MGM was smart enough to listen.”
Avril Lavigne and Meghan Trainor, both of whom have songs in the movie, were also in attendance.
The Hustle hits theaters May 10.
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