Ben Affleck Talks to Matt Damon About Meeting Jennifer Lopez on 'Gigli', Why It Was 'Meaningful'

Ben Affleck reflected on his romance with Jennifer Lopez around the time of their 2003 movie Gigli

Ben Affleck is looking back at his career with pal Matt Damon — including how meeting Jennifer Lopez along the way impacted his life.

During a conversation for Entertainment Weekly's February 2022 cover story, the Oscar-winning Good Will Hunting duo and costars of last year's The Last Duel discuss Affleck's latest film The Tender Bar, directed by George Clooney.

Damon, who conducted the interview, asked Affleck about some of his biggest career moments, plus a low like his 2003 film Gigli, directed by Martin Brest. Affleck costarred with Lopez in the film, which was lambasted by critics and audiences upon its release. The pair began dating after shooting the romantic film together.

Reflecting on how their relationship at the time affected the movie's performance, Affleck, 49, said Gigli taught him "how much everything around a movie sort of dictates the way people see it."

"But for being a movie that's such a famous bomb and a disaster, very few people actually saw the movie," he said. "It doesn't work, by the way. It's a sort of horse's head in a cow's body. And the studio at the time, because I had begun having this relationship with Jennifer Lopez, which was selling a lot of magazines and appeared to generate a lot of enthusiasm, they just predictably latched onto, 'They want a romantic comedy. They want the two of them together. More of that!' "

Affleck pointed out that Gigli wasn't his worst movie flop: "I've had five movies — at least! — that have lost more money than Gigli has," he said.

He added, "It's just that it became a story in and of itself. The funny name, the Jennifer Lopez romance and overexposure of that — it was kind of a perfect storm. And I remember talking to Marty the Friday it came out and I was like it's just spectacular, it's a tsunami, it couldn't be worse. This is as bad as it gets."

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez
Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. Steve Granitz/FilmMagic

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"But," Affleck acknowledged, "if the reaction to Gigli hadn't happened, I probably wouldn't have ultimately decided, 'I don't really have any other avenue but to direct movies,' which has turned out to be the real love of my professional life. So in those ways, it's a gift."

Matt Damon; Ben Affleck; Jennifer Lopez
Theo Wargo/Getty Images; Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic; Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

"And I did get to meet Jennifer, the relationship with whom has been really meaningful to me in my life," he told Damon, adding, "Jennifer and I happened to be together at a time where the whole industry of celebrity journalism, if you want to call it that, sort of exploded. But I thought, 'S---, this is really not how I had hoped to go, where I'm going to be, what? Famous for being an assh--- or a failure and not able to work?' "

The actor and Lopez called off their engagement in 2004, but last year rekindled their romance.

In December, Affleck opened up about second chances and learning from past mistakes while talking to WSJ. Magazine. When asked about his relationship with Lopez, 52, he explained that "one of the harder lessons that I have learned is that it's not wise to share everything with the world."

"There are some things which are private and intimate and have meaning in terms of their intimacy by dint of the fact that they're not shared with the rest of the world. I'm more comfortable just learning to find a boundary between things that I want to share and things that I don't," he said. "I don't know if it's good or bad. I don't. I know that I feel more comfortable having those healthy boundaries in my life around which, in a friendly and straightforward way, I tell you, I just don't want to be talking about my personal relationship in the newspaper. I'm going to exercise a little restraint."

The Tender Bar is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

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