Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez were everywhere during their engagement, as their relationship just happened to come as a wave of new tabloids were on the rise. In a new interview this week, Affleck noted how many of the things written about Lopez at the time were "sexist" and "racist," to the point where people would be fired today for writing the same things. The Way Back star and Lopez were together from 2002 to 2004, but Affleck has had nothing but praise for Lopez since the break-up.
While speaking with The Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter podcast, Affleck said their relationship was a "story of the month," and it just happened to coincide at a time when the tabloid business exploded. "People were so f—ing mean about her — sexist, racist," Affleck recalled. "Ugly, vicious s— was written about her in ways that if you wrote it now, you would literally be fired for saying those things you said. Now it's like, she's lionized and respected for the work she did, where she came from, what she accomplished — as well she f—ing should be!" Affleck suggested it was easier for someone from the Bronx to become a Supreme Court Justice like Justice Sonia Sotomayor than to become another Jennifer Lopez.
The relationship between Affleck and Lopez also coincided with a downturn in his career. At that point, he was in the "very worst position you can be in in this business." His image on a cover could sell magazines, but not movie tickets. "People were just saying, 'You're worthless. You're talentless. You're a hack. You're a cad. You're a nobody. You're s—.' And I guess I function well when I have something to prove," Affleck told THR. "I never thought to myself, 'I have no talent. I really am an a—hole. I really am some jerkoff shallow frat guy.' I've never even been inside a fraternity, not that I have anything against it.'"
In February, Affleck told The New York Times he wished Lopez was nominated for an Oscar for Hustlers. "She's the real thing," he said of his ex. "I keep in touch periodically with her and have a lot of respect for her. How awesome is it that she had her biggest hit movie at 50? That's f—ing baller."
As for Lopez, she told HuffPost in 2015 the whole "Gigli era" was the "lowest point" of her career, referring to the 2003 box office bomb she made with Affleck during their relationship. "I was in a high-profile relationship at the time that fell apart in a really bad way, and so they kind of mix of those two things — the tabloid press had just come into existence at the time, so I was like a poster child for that moment," she said at the time. “I was in the tabloids every other week about how my life was falling apart... It was a tough time.”