INT: Jennifer Lopez
ANACONDA star Jennifer Lopez returns to the big screen this week with the romantic comedy MONSTER-IN-LAW, directed by Robert Luketic and co-starring Jane Fonda and Michael Vartan. Lopez plays Charlie Cantilini, a woman who, after years of dating disasters, finally manages to land Mr. Right (Vartan). Problem is, Mr. Rights mother (Fonda) isnt too fond of J. Lo, and shell stop at nothing to keep her from marrying him. Much comedy ensues as an increasingly obsessive mom executes a series of crazy schemes in an attempt to break up the happy couple.
Though the Bennifer days with ex-fiance Ben Affleck are long gone, Lopez still manages to attract the attention of the paparazzi. As I arrived at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills for the MONSTER-IN-LAW junket, they loitered about the hotel entrance, clutching their cameras in anticipation of Lopezs arrival. Inside, security was tight; studio publicists handed out pink wristbands to ensure that no uninvited guests could sneak in to catch a glimpse of the former Flygirl.
Here are some excerpts from the Jennifer Lopez press conference.
What attracted you to this role?
I love romantic comedies and Ive said this a million times if I have my choice, Id rather watch a romantic comedy at home than, you know, the great new drama thats out. I know its silly. Im a girl. Im very girly that way and so I like making them as well. Its hard to find romantic comedies with some sort of premise that you know is going to be funny that a lot of people can relate to and I just felt in this script with the mother-in-law aspect, theres nothing about that people are not going to understand, the dynamic between a mother and a son, the dynamic between the daughter-in-law and - it just lent for a lot of comedy and also a lot of feeling something for a lot of people to relate to.
Were you able to relate to your character at all?
In a way I do because she does do a lot of different things. I mean we do them for different reasons - I think Charlie the character is more indecisive about her life, doesnt want to commit to anything. Im a little bit more decisive about the things I want to do, but were both creative. Were both involved in a lot of different jobs and different things that we do.
Can you talk about the scene where you and Jane slap each other? Was that real?
Yes, that was very real. Its funny; Jane is really tough and I like to think that Im tough sometimes too, and we got there and we were like, How are we going to do this? And we knew it was a timing thing you want to catch a rhythm on it and stuff like that. So we just started; I said, How are we going to do this? and theres a stunt coordinator there, making sure you dont hurt each other. And basically we said, Lets just go for it, You slap me, Ill slap you, okay? Im like, Okay. So thats what we did, and we were slapping each other a lot. A lot.
Michael (Vartan) mentioned that he was astounded at the amount of paparazzi that surrounded the set.
Well its just surprising to me how aggressive they are these days. I mean yesterday on the way home we almost got into an accident. Its crazy. Its just crazy. Im astounded myself by the aggressiveness that they have these days and its just getting worse and worse and worse. Sometimes I feel like its a game - like theyre playing cops and robbers and theyre spies. Its crazy.
You were saying they pursued you by car?
I didnt even know. I was sitting there. I was talking to my assistant Shannon and we were sitting there - I dont even know what we were talking about, what we were going to have for dinner or something - and all of a sudden my drivers just taking a left, right by the police station in Beverly Hills. He takes a left and all of a sudden this car just (screeched), like right in front of us and I was like, What the hell was that? And it was the paparazzi trying to beat the light on the same turn with us. I got goose-pimples. I didnt even realize we were being pursued because I try to block the stuff out a little bit because its the only way to kind of live I dont want to think about being stalked all the time.
It seems as if youve really made an effort to take yourself out of out of the limelight, away from the tabloids.
Yes. Yes. Ive been good at it, but I mean eventually they figure out, kind of, where you live and you know - I have to leave the house sometimes, you know - but the way I actually did pull back a little bit where you stopped seeing me everywhere all the time was that I just stopped leaving my house, and thats the crazy part of it, you know what I mean, theyre like why dont you see the press, its like I dont go anywhere, but now Im working a little bit more again and so they kind of have followed us here and there.
What did you like about working with Jane Fonda?
You know one of the great things about working with Jane was it really gave me a glimpse into what it must have been like when movies were different. She worked in a different era where it was more about plays and stories, and midnight cowboys and all kinds of stuff like that. Just working with Dustin Hoffman - like that kind of very actor-ish, all about the work method, when movies were just about that. I worked with Robert Redford as well, in a movie called AN UNFINISHED LIFE that will be out July 22nd and we were talking one day, and I was telling him how THE WAY WE WERE was one of my favorite movies because I loved Barbara Streisand and I love him and he was like you know, its a shame, you guys dont have scripts like that these days, that are about like politics and Hollywood and social issues and a love story all combined into one.
They dont make movies like that - its about big commercial blockbusters a little bit more now and people take less chances on the independent stuff. Its a tougher - its a tougher kind of thing. So I guess what was great about working with Jane - back to the original question - was that I kind of got a glimpse into what that was. So everyday on the set it was like, How do we push this scene? She would come very prepared. I like to be very prepared. Wed get there, wed talk about what we were going to do and shed have, like, almost like what was on the page and what that was - and what we were going to do and then like, the craziest thing she could think of. We would run the gamut of trying all these different things and it was a lot of fun, just thinking about how it was just about the work everyday and making each scene as great as we could with what we had to work with.
We really did have a lot of fun. It was the type of set where you actually looked forward to going there everyday. She made it a great experience - from a working standpoint - pushing every scene. I was just thinking upstairs today as I was getting ready that all the scenes that didnt make it in the movie, that were very funny and how we did so many crazy things - so many things - there wasnt room in the movie for all the crazy things that we did, but it was a lot of fun.
Youve got Wanda Sykes next to you making wise-cracks throughout the film. Did you worry about getting upstaged or having the movie stolen from you?
No. No, not at all. I always love when everybody else is bringing their game. Because its only going to make the movie better - you know what I mean? So, you know, it just makes you work harder and they work harder and everybody is trying to, you know, get their little bit in, and its - its competitive in a constructive way. You know what I mean? All of us got along really well and I know you guys hear that all the time, its so boring, but its true we did. Jane and I really had a great respect for one another and we really got to like each other and know each other. Shes a lovely woman. Wanda is so nice and just crazy and funny and you just want to be around her always in between takes because shes that funny. Michael is lovely. You know what I mean? So it was kind of even. There was just really the four of us most of the time so --
You and Michael (Vartan) had great chemistry. What was it like working with him?
You know Michael always kind of scores in these kinds of roles. You just know if you get Michael Vartan youre lucky because he is just like the perfect boyfriend person, right?
Just because hes so sweet. Hes very genuine - hes very real. He doesnt have a bunch of phony airs about him, you know, hes French. He speaks French all of a sudden and youre like, Ooh he speaks French, - you know what I mean - theres just something about him thats very kind.
What do you do to relax?
You know what? I do nothing. I really love doing nothing. I really love just being at home and taking a couple of days, doing nothing. You know what I mean? Just getting up, being around the house, going outside in the backyard, coming back in. I really like to do nothing because I travel a lot. Theres a lot of traveling. Theres a lot of on the phone all the time. Theres a lot of looking at papers and reading things and so you just want to you dont want to read magazines and you dont want to do anything. You just want to just kind of shut down a little bit.
Is there any concerned that, within the last couple of years, your movies havent been all that positively received?
No, not really. I always felt like as an actress my job was to do good work and Ive been able to keep doing that - improving myself in my movies. You dont have control over this type of thing. You try to pick the best material that you can get your hands on. Its a very competitive business. Then you do your best in that movie, and you hope for the best. Ive done about 20 movies now and I dont know out of an active career, every move they do is great. You have one and then you have five and then you have one and then you have ten, if youre lucky enough to be around doing it that long. I just feel fortunate to be able to be still doing it - that my work has been something that people still believe in and I think so long as I keep challenging myself and thats what I plan to do, keep challenging myself and doing good work and doing the best that I can in that movie then I think Ill be okay. So hopefully Ill have some great classics along the way and be able to make that one movie that everybody will remember. Who knows? Well see. Its very early in my career - well have to wait.
Questions? Comments? Manifestos? Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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