May 2002
Hanging out with J-Lo: An interview with Jennifer Lopez

Interviewed by Wilson Morales

 

Hanging out with J-Lo : An Interview with Jennifer Lopez

As one of the fastest rising actresses in the business, Jennifer Lopez has conquered a lot recently. Besides getting married, her last film "Angel Eyes" gained critical acclaim and her previous film "The Wedding Planner" opened at #1, the same time her album opened at #1 as well - a record feat for a female actress/artist. On her day off, she opened a restaurant, launched a nationwide model search for and started a clothing line. Back on the big screen, her latest film "ENOUGH" will have females going to the gym to learn the new moves she's picked up. In an interview with blackfilm.com, J-LO talks about her reason for taking the role and being a role model for teenagers.


WM: How did your character get the name "Slim"?

JL: The character's name was Slim throughout the whole movie. It never alluded or talked about what her real name was in the script at all. So I kind of made up a name in my head, since that whole thing with her mother and father, and the past bad situation obviously, and how she said he helped kill her; so I figured that she was really in love with the father and that his name was Jupiter and her name was Saturn. So that's probably why her nickname was Slim. It was my motivation why she never wanted to say her name.


WM: What did you make of this character? What made you take this role?

JL: I knew I could do it the minute I read it but what attracted me were two things. One was the fact I knew Michael Apted would make it entertaining. It is a thriller - a twist and turn, edge of your seat type of thriller. I knew that would be fun. But also, that whole woman's empowerment thing where you have the power to get yourself out of this negative situation.


WM: Is there anything that you wanted to add to this character that you have seen done before in other films of this genre (thriller)?

JL: No, I don't really do too much comparing when I'm doing something. I really try to concentrate on the honesty of the character herself and really hitting each emotional beat so the people can follow and relate all the way through. I think this character goes through so many things. She starts off guarded, doesn't want to go there, knows what love can be from her parent's relationship. She gives in completely, gets devastated, hits the low point, and has to come back from that. That was what I focused on as opposed to how other people have done this role and how should I do it. It was more about her and that honesty. There was so much there that it was a lot to concentrate on.


WM: How is this film different from other thrillers involving females waiting to be rescued?

JL: In other films, there's always a rescuer for the woman but in this film, she has to rescue herself. Even if somebody rescues you, you are still living with that. You have to go through the process of healing and finding yourself so that doesn't happen again because most likely that person will get into the same type of relationship again if they haven't changed anything about themselves. It's a hard reality to face.


WM: Can you talk about training with Krav Maga (a martial arts technique)?

JL: I have trained a lot throughout the years. I learned boxing for "Money Train". I had to stay in shape all the time. But this was different. This was the dirty street fighting technique. Use whatever you can, get out of the way and counter attack as opposed to being the big burly person who dominates. That was so smart of us using this technique in the film. It was challenging, definitely physically challenging. But it wasn't the part that was the hardest for me in the movie, the emotional part was. Physically I have been an athlete since I was 8 years old so that stuff doesn't scare me away. I knew I could handle this and its discipline.


WM: Can you talk about doing your own stunts and not using a stunt double?

JL: I don't do things that will get me hurt. You do things so many times in movies. It's not like you do it the one time you see it on film to get that. You have to do several takes. You're doing this stuff for 10 days in a row for a four-minute scene or whatever it is. It was tough. I knew the fight. I learned the whole entire fight. I knew everything I had to do so I could do most of it. If I had to hit the floor and there was a pad there, I would do it. I rather you see me getting hit to the floor falling down and whatever. But if it had to be on a bare floor and a girl had to take the hit, then that would be a stunt double that knew how to do that in a way she wouldn't hurt herself. I would break my arm if I had to do it without pads.


WM: Do you see yourself doing more action movies?

JL: I would love to do a film with John Woo. I think that would be amazing and it's funny because he said the same thing. He said, "Jennifer Lopez is the only woman I think I can do an action movie with." I don't know what he saw me in, maybe an old film on TV or something. Right now he's not doing any action films, but I told him to let's do something together. Let's think about it. Try to remember that.


WM: What's it like to be a role model for teenagers?

JL: It's nice. I live my life in very simple ways. I work hard every day. I try not to hurt anyone along the way. If people look up to me because of that then it's a good thing. It's flattering for me. It's kind of overwhelming in a way that's it's like why would they do that, but then you think to yourself that if they are going to look up to people who are just working hard and doing their thing in a positive way, so if it were my child I would like that.


WM: The last film you had opened at #1 along with the release of your album, which did the same thing. Do you feel the pressure of topping yourself?

JL: These feats or history things that happen are good but there is no way to top them or plan them. I never do things for those reasons. You can't do what you can't control. I can only control one thing, and that's what I do and the product that I put out there. So that means not getting involved with things I'm not passionate about. So I give it 100% and really control my work and product and what I do and that's all I really try to concentrate on.


WM: If someone were to ask you what you do for a living, what would you say?

JL: Right now, I would say that I'm a singer, and an actress and I run a couple of other businesses.


WM: What haven't you done so far?

JL: A lot of things. I think to myself and say I haven't sat down in front of a beach and relaxed and looked up to the sky and reached up. I used to do things like that. I miss that.


WM: Now that you have a restaurant, how will you manage that and balance your film and singing career?

JL: The key with everything I do is to have good people around you that you trust and have faith in. The restaurant is something I did with family and close friends. My dad is helping to manage it along with my ex-husband, whom I trust very much and is my very good friend. Friends of the family are the cooks in the kitchen. So it's a very close venture. Even when I'm away, I wondered, "How we'd do last night". I have faith that whatever is going on over there is honest and good and it's going to turn out okay.


WM: Was it a comforting experience playing a mother?

JL: I loved working with Tessa (Allen). She was 4 years old. It's not like she was playing a four-year-old. She was a baby and incredibly smart and aware that she was acting. She was a professional. But I have worked with children before so it wasn't a new thing. I know how to relate to them. I'm pretty good with them. I have a ten-year-old in my next film. But in this film, I would help her through everything. I would help her to stay focused but you got to remember that she's 4 years old and gets tired after a while. She was the most wonderful loving child. We bonded as close as we could bond as a mother and child, not being a mother and child. She understood that I was her mommy in the movie. It was wonderful. It's a lot for a child in this business when you have so many people around you. I've seen kids buckle under pressure. But then you have a girl like Tessa who understands this, but you want to protect her.


WM: As you grow with more exposure, do you find it harder to do more indie films like "Blood & Wine" and "Mi Familia"?

JL: It's not harder, it's just finding the right stuff. People will come to me with some things but it's not that good. They need to get the film off the ground so they'll come to me. But it wouldn't be the caliber or type of thing I would like to do. For me, it's about the material and the role.


WM: What's your next feature?

JL: My next film is called "Uptown Girl". It was known as the "Chambermaid" before the switch. It's a romantic comedy with Ralph Fiennes. This is a Cinderella story, not "Enough". It's slated to come out this Christmas.


WM: Is music more personal than movies?

JL: Absolutely, I think everyone would agree to that. When you are acting, you learn about things, you're more sympathetic to people's plights. You get into the mindset that anything can happen to you. You can be that person. That's the wonderful thing about acting, but it's once removed from yourself in a way although you bring a lot of personal stuff to it. Music is all you and what you want to say and how you feel that day. It's about how you want to express yourself visually as well. It's a much more confined effort between you and your producer or writing partner. I write with my producer so it's just the two of us. With a movie, there are a lot of people involved.


WM: How important is it to you where you're from? How does that inform you as a performer?

JL: It is who I am. It comes out in everything I do and think.