Jennifer Lopez really gave Zane Lowe a tell-all interview on Apple Music 1—at least when it comes to all she went through with her and Ben Affleck’s romance. The singer hopped on to talk about the 20-year anniversary of This Is Me…Then about the first go of their relationship that ended in the “biggest heartbreak” of Lopez’s life and upcoming album This Is Me…Now, which will focus on their finding each other again and reconciling decades later.
“Once we called off that wedding 20 years ago, it was the biggest heartbreak of my life,” she recalled of their September 2003 decision not to go through with the ceremony, which they announced one day before the wedding date. They ultimately broke up in January 2004 before reconciling in spring 2021. They got married this summer.
“I honestly felt like I was going to die. It sent me on a spiral for the next 18 years where I just couldn’t get it right,” she said about her love life. “But now, 20 years later, it does have a happy ending. It has the most would-never-happen-in-Hollywood ending. ‘That would never happen. We’re not going to write that because nobody would believe it’ ending. It’s funny because when me and Ben got back together, he was like, ‘You never performed the songs [from This Is Me…Then]. You never did ‘I’m Glad.’ You never did this. You never did that.’ I was like, ‘You’re right. It was painful.’ It was a part of me then that I had to put away to move on and survive. It was a survival tactic, for sure.”
She also said the album This Is Me…Then is a reflection of a “young girl in love, hopelessly, devotedly in love with the person she wants to be with forever, that type of love that you can’t hide. You’re just like, ‘This is how I feel. This is who I am. I love this person. I love him with all my heart and soul.’ It was mutual.”
Lopez touched on a lot in the interview, which you can listen to in full below, and read on for the highlights:
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On Lopez and Affleck slowly falling in love with the first time:
“I think what happened is, as we worked together [on Gigli], we became such good friends. We realized that we were crazy about each other. I found myself kind of thinking about him after the movie was over. And having to take care of my own business, because I was coming out of a relationship at that time [Lopez’s marriage to Cris Judd]. But it’s like you just knew it. It’s just like, ‘This is the person I want to be with.’ And that happened over a period of months. It wasn’t an instant thing because we weren’t allowed to do that. Yeah, it kind of grew over time.”
On her and Affleck deciding to get back together in spring 2021:
“I think now that we’re older, we realize, it’s much more clear, because…when we felt that way, now we know. Now, we know. And there is no questions and there is no kind of like, ‘Well, let’s see how this goes.’ Like, ‘Nope, it’s me and you. That’s it. All the way, till the end. That’s it. It’s going to be us.’”
She added that while they knew immediately the love was still there, they were still careful about going back into things because of their children. “We had our kids and we had to tread lightly and carefully so they could come along with us…Because they didn’t live those years before. And they’re like, ‘Wow, they’ve known each other forever.’ And that’s it. We did know each other forever, and we had to live these separate paths and we did other beautiful things and we had these amazing children. But when we came back together and the universe and God and, as it would have it… Once we got whole enough and complete enough and loved ourselves enough and could stand on our own two feet really completely, as the universe would have it, we were brought into each other’s lives again. And it was a crack in the clouds and that song came through and it was like, ‘Boom, that’s it.’ And we were both very sure.”
On the messages of both This Is Me…Then and This Is Me…Now and Affleck’s reaction to what she shared about them lyrically
“[On This Is Me…Now], we captured me at this moment in time when I was reunited with the love of my life and we decided we were going to be together forever. The whole message of the album then is this love exists. This is a real love. Now I think what the message of the album is very much if you were wondering if you have, like me at times, lost hope, almost given up, don’t. Because true love does exist and some things do last forever and that’s real. I want to put that message out into the world and that does take a lot of vulnerability. But I couldn’t stop myself and some parts of it scare me. And I think parts of it scare Ben too. He’s like, ‘Oh, do you really want to say all this stuff?’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t know how else to do it, baby.’
“I went into it with the attitude of I’m going to capture this moment in time,” she continued. “I’m different than I was 18, 20 years ago. I’m different than I was 20 years ago. I’ve grown. I’ve learned things. I’ve been through some shit. I’ve had some hard times. I’ve been through divorce. I’ve been through a lot of different difficult relationships at times and private things that happened. But it got me to this place and it was just about, let’s capture who I am right now, here today, and what I’ve gone through. I mean, we have songs on there that talk about what this life is for me. Whereas ‘Jenny From the Block’ was me going, ‘I’m still Jenny from the block. I know I’m famous now and all this, but I’m still Jenny from the block.’ Now I’m talking about [how] my life is not all hearts and flowers like you thought it may have been. Let me tell you a little bit about what it was like.”
On the public support of her and Affleck getting back together after the toxic tabloid coverage during their first time dating:
“It’s funny, when we first got together, there was this kind of big like, ‘Oh my God, they’re back together. We love it.’ And we were both like… Really? Cool. Okay, we really loved that. But it really… There was real love for it. It just was overwhelming, by the way, for us too and for everybody. And I get it.”
“Because happy endings exist and we need them,” Lowe added. “And it’s nice to know they’re not just in the movies. You have given—”
“No, you can get a second chance, if you do the work,” Lopez said, adding later, “If you do the work, and you don’t give up, you can get there. To somewhere amazing and beautiful and blessed. And that’s how I feel. And because of that I just… I mean, as an artist, that’s just the only reason I’m here, is to share what I know and what I learn and what I go through. And when I can be inspired to do that in the most honest way, I think that’s when I fulfill my own purpose.”
Alyssa Bailey is the senior news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she’s not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.