Jennifer Lopez in ‘Marry Me’, Fame and Ben Affleck

LOS ANGELES — Of course the fireplace is burning Jennifer Lopezthe House. It’s a rainy day just a week before Christmas, and the Spanish-style Bel-Air mansion is decorated as you’d expect: pine wreath strewn around the mantle, orange roses on the coffee table, a professionally cut Christmas tree in the living room.

Dressed in a couture version of her work-from-home uniform, down to the star herself, it’s like a page from a Restoration Hardware catalog: chunky beige sweater, cream sweatpants, stoned Timberlands. Her hair is gathered in a bun and a bit of makeup highlights her incredibly dewy complexion. Giant diamond studs affixed to her ears are the only true gift of her status as one of the most famous women on the planet.

Which makes you wonder, does something happen in Jennifer Lopez’s life by chance? That’s a question to ponder, especially after her new boyfriend Ben Affleck shows up for a kiss and whispered conversation next to a giant gingerbread house frosted with the words “The Affleck Lopez Family.”

After all, this is a woman who has successfully navigated the dangerous waters of celebrity for nearly three decades, endured one after another public loves and breakups, and reshaped herself from dancer to singer to actress to producer. At 52, it seems more relevant than ever at a time when female stars often find themselves in an age- and gender-discriminatory Hollywood purgatory.

new movie, sparkly romantic comedy “Marry me” Long delayed by the pandemic, it opens in theaters and at Peacock on Valentine’s Day weekend. In the movie, Lopez plays a J.Lo-like superstar who tries to negotiate a love life amid the traps of super fame. (Sounds familiar?) He will play another bride”shotgun wedding” will wrap up this summer before she swaps aprons for the role of a deadly assassin in Netflix’s upcoming movie. “Mom,” He planned to finish filming in the Canary Islands after the Christmas holidays.

At one point, the streaming service signed on last year A multi-year deal with Lopez’s company, Niyorican Productions, he will also broadcast a documentary about the year he turned 50 and the year all his different worlds came together: Legitimate recognition for his acting in “The Hustlers” (he earned his second Golden Globe nomination and SAG Award nomination), his 2019 international concert tour and halftime show at the 2020 Super Bowl. “The year everything I’ve worked for in movies, music and fashion started to come true,” she said.

“Marry Me,” which Lopez began working on years ago with her former manager and producing partner, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, is, in a way, an explanation of what it’s like to be in the spotlight, what Lopez calls a “very private life.” Something. A claim that it can resurrect a genre that has been left to die by both the studio system and the romantic comedy stars of the past.

For Goldsmith-Thomas, it was the decision to switch from “Hustlers,” which bolstered Lopez’s reputation as a serious actress, to “Marry Me,” which is more in line with the rom-com’s previous success as a daredevil (“Marry Me”).maid in Manhattan”“wedding planner“We love doing ‘Hustlers’, but that doesn’t mean that’s all we have to do,” he said. “Don’t pull back the curtain and make a movie about what it’s like to live and love in a glass container, magnifying your mistakes across all platforms. and the crucifixion, and eventually found your way through it. Add to that the ability to make and produce a soundtrack to this journey, and we’d be foolish not to do that.”

In “Marry Me”, Lopez plays Kat Valdez, a global pop star who plans to marry her boyfriend and is also a worldwide sensation (played by Colombian singer-songwriter) you know), in front of millions of fans with a televised stunt. Moments before the big “I Do,” Valdez discovers that Valdez is cheating on him, cancels the ceremony on stage, and chooses to marry the poor knight (Owen Wilson) in the audience with the “Marry Me” sign. Consider “The Bodyguard” meets “Notting Hill” by Lopez, complete with a soundtrack.

The film is both a sparkling pop fantasy and a glimpse into a life few are lucky enough to lead. Any obsessive Lopez fan will scrutinize him closely for clues to Lopez’s own soul, especially at the top of how lonely he can be, where his cocoon of authority can often feel like a cage. And they will not be wrong.

Lopez remembered filming a scene where her character, exhausted and still in her dress, returns home after the stunt ceremony went south. Jimmy turns on Fallon, but during his midnight monologue he sees her insulting him and begins to cry. It’s a hint of vulnerability that you don’t see much of in Lopez and that the actress took a while to reach.

“When you get hurt a few times, ‘You’ll know I had to be careful.’ If things are too deep and you put them out, someone might step on your heart,” he said, adding a curse.

The film’s director, Kat Coiro, was amazed by Lopez’s pursuit of perfection. “Even her acting has a choreography,” she said. Still, for the scene to work, Coiro asked Lopez to repeat it several times to break that veneer. The result is as real, or as real as Lopez allows.

“In this movie, I had to remind myself that this is actually a safe place to release those emotions,” said Lopez, sitting in front of the wreathed fireplace. “They’re making fun of me, it hurts. My instinct was to pretend it didn’t happen.”

Lopez has spent decades trying to find the balance between what the public wants from her and what she wants to give. He still likes to meet and greet his fans after concerts. First, Coiro was stunned by how much time he was willing to give them.

“It’s so common that sometimes it doesn’t get the praise it deserves,” the director said. “I think there’s something of that in this movie.” “When Kat Valdez talked about never winning an award, I think it was a real moment,” Coiro continued. “He was around. He has fans like no one else, and because of that high profile, he’s sometimes not looked at in a particular way.”

Despite the scarecrows, public perception is something Lopez still struggles to justify.

“You really just want to sing and dance and act,” Lopez said. “It comes with all the other things you need to learn how to navigate – having that public life, that artistic life, and then your private life. An ordinary life like anyone you want,” he said hesitantly. “They’re all under scrutiny.”

Lopez had just finished telling me this when Affleck showed up. “Hello baby” she said to him. The duo set the internet on fire last year when they rekindled their relationship from 19 years ago – such an extra relationship at the time that it single-handedly fueled tabloid culture with the duo’s glamorous and very public encounters. (Revisit Lopez’s famous 2002 movie “Jenny From the Block”) video Seeing Affleck kissing her bikini bottom while the two of them sunbathe on the yacht.) He interrupted the conversation to lure her into the other room with a backpack slung over his shoulder. They came back 10 minutes later, just to hug, kiss and whisper “I love you” in each other’s ears. “Okay love, see you later,” he said before running.

It was a strange feeling. Was it planned? Natural? My requests to speak to Affleck were denied, but here it was, the respectful boyfriend sharing words of encouragement in front of the press.

I asked Lopez about the conversations the two had before rekindling a romance that had previously had the power to wreck the two movies and jeopardize their own careers. (“Gigli” and its successor “Jersey Girl” collapsed when they were released, partly due to the turmoil in relationships.) Did they devise strategies for how to handle the media frenzy that would accompany such a union?

“I can say we learned our lesson the first time around,” he said with a sigh.

And what is that lesson?

“To keep it holy,” he added. “You have to do what’s always good for you. But you also learn from the past, you do things better the second time around. There is a part, yes, we’re together. But there is a part of that, you know, just like we were when we were very young and in love years ago.” We are not open.”

What about everything she’s shared with the public during her four-year relationship with former Yankee Alex Rodriguez, from her constant presence on the red carpet to candid Instagram shots with her own kids? The duo tried to buy the New York Mets in 2020, but lost to a higher bidder.

“When you’re in something, you do the right thing. And I can’t beat myself up saying ‘I wish I had done it differently’ or ‘Did I do it too much? “That was what was comfortable back then. I did what I did. He did what he did. And it was good. The relationship issue had nothing to do with being public or not.”

One thing seems clear: Lopez is a hopeless romantic who still believes in fate despite three marriages and other failed relationships. This seems to be the transition line for his new movie and also the transition line for his life, he doesn’t intend to change it anytime soon.

He said, “You can’t live life and think everything was just a mistake: I messed up there, I messed up there. No, it’s all a lesson.” What can you really get out of this?

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