Juancho Hernangómez, a professional NBA player and first-time actor, has known Adam Sandler but wasn’t particularly fans of his before getting paired up with him in Netflix’s Hustle.
“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.”
The friendship between Hernangómez and Sandler has developed quickly because they both share an intense love for the 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.”
Even 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 portrayed his character Bo Cruz – a highly skilled amateur ball player with severe injury on his shoulder – well.
“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.”
His little sister, Andrea, was the one who pressed him to participate in the project.
“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.