Jennifer Lopez Reflects on Her Hustlers Pole Dance Scene: "I Was Actually Terrified"

Is it possible to imagine Hustlers without Ramona's momentous entrance? In a recent actress round-table discussion for The Hollywood Reporter, Jennifer Lopez said her now-famous pole dance scene, set to Fiona Apple's "Criminal," wasn't originally included in the script until she suggested it. "It was my fault that I was there to begin with," Lopez joked.

For Lopez, filming the opening number was terrifying. "This was the first time in a long time that I was actually terrified, really scared," she said. Why do it then? She explained, "It wasn't written in the script. And I was like, no, she's the big money-maker at the club — she has to show why. We can't say it, we have to do it. I have to dance on the pole, I have to show them, I have to go there."

"I have to show them, I have to go there."

To perform the routine, Lopez trained with choreographer and instructor Johanna Sapakie over the course of six weeks. In a video shared to her YouTube channel, Lopez offered insight into the intense process, which often left her legs covered in bruises. "It's rough on your body," she said at the time. "I'm just trying to look convincing."

HUSTLERS, Jennifer Lopez, 2019. photo: Barbara Nitke /  STX Entertainment / courtesy Everett Collection
Everett Collection

Describing the day she filmed the scene, Lopez said, "Then when I was there and I had the dental floss on, I'm out there in a way I've never been. It was so scary, I was so terrified. I have my robe on and there's 300 extras, all men." She added, "I think that was putting myself out there, in a way, deeper than I had ever done physically and emotionally, and playing a character that was that unapologetic in so many ways. It was so different from who I was."

Lopez's efforts will likely pay off, as she's expected to be recognized in the leading or supporting actress category come award season, potentially attaining her first-ever Oscar nomination.