NBA player and now actor Juancho Hernangómez knew Adam Sandler way before working with him on Netflix’s Hustle but wasn’t particularly a fan of his at the time.
“Coming from Spain, I know his movies, of course, but I never was a fan,” Hernangómez says in an interview with EW. However, when he met the comedian, he loved him at first sight.
“From the first day we got through chemistry and fitting, we loved each other so much,” says the 26-year-old basketball player. “He loved me like his older son, and I looked at him like a dad. We had a good relationship in every way. He took care of me from the first day.”
They may be from very different backgrounds and fields as much as their height difference – Hernangómez is 6 foot 9 – but the two have become close friends because they are interested in this sport.
“He loves basketball; he really, really, really loves it,” states Hernangómez of his co-actor. “He watches all the games; he texts me after the games. It’s crazy how good our relationship is. We spent so much time together; we developed some good chemistry.”
Though he had never acted in his life until recently (and never considered doing it before his sister convinced him to do so in Hustle), Hernangómez’s performance as Bo Cruz, a highly-skilled amateur ball player with an injury in his shoulder, was convincing and interesting.
“I don’t know how it happened,” states Hernangómez regarding his acting debut. “[Producers] asked my agent, and I told them no for like 5 or 6 months because it wasn’t my dream, and I am so focused on my NBA career that I just wanted to give 100 percent to that.”
He added, “I told my agent, ‘I don’t want to waste time on something I don’t love.”
However, when his little sister Andrea press-buttoned him to participate in the project during the summer offseason, he had no choice but to listen.
“I was at home with my brother [fellow NBA player Willy Hernangómez] and sister at my brother’s home all summer, and we were so bored,” he recounts. “We didn’t have anything else to do, so my sister pushed us to do something different and do the casting.”
They created audition videos together and dispatched them to producers, even without being aware of what they wanted of his performance.
“We recorded the audition video, and it was crazy because I don’t know what they’re seeing or what they’re looking for, but they liked it, and they gave me a role,” he added.