Playing his part, Ralph Fiennes recalled being a “relationship decoy” to distract from Jennifer Lopez‘s relationship with Ben Affleck in the early 2000s.
“I was set up,” the Grand Budapest Hotel star, 59, revealed during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen on Tuesday, November 15, before sharing the story behind the paparazzi shots of him hugging his Maid in Manhattan costar, 53, in June 2002. “I was asked out to dinner with J. Lo and her manager and her agent … We had a nice dinner, chatty chatty chatty. … [Afterward,] I think I was walking home, but [we gave each other a] peck on the cheek goodnight.”
However, just as Fiennes and Lopez were saying their goodbyes, “a paparazzi — just one — pops out” and snaps a photo of the two of them. “But somehow, the pictures were angled so that as she’s walking away, [it looks like] I’m walking after her. And I think it said the next day [in the New York] Post, ‘It’s Ralph!'”
Despite accidentally becoming a part of Lopez’s epic love story with the 50-year-old Gone Girl star, Fiennes doesn’t hold a grudge. “My reaction [when I learned they got back together] was, ‘Good luck to them,'” the King’s Man star said.
The “On the Floor” singer and Affleck fell in love on the set of Gigli in 2002 and were engaged by November of that year. Their relationship was highly-publicized from the start, and the couple cited “excessive media attention” as one of the reasons that they called off their September 2003 wedding. They called it quits four months later.
“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,” the Good Will Hunting star told Entertainment Weekly in January about the press attention surrounding the project. “[But] … I did get to meet Jennifer, the relationship with whom has been really meaningful to me in my life.”
Affleck — who was married to Jennifer Garner from June 2005 to June 2015 and shares children Violet, 16, Seraphina, 13, and Samuel, 10, with the Alias alum — reconnected with the Marry Me star in the spring of 2021, just weeks after she ended her engagement to Alex Rodriguez. The Massachusetts native popped the question for the second time in April and the pair tied the knot in Las Vegas in July.
One month later, the couple had a second ceremony at Affleck’s home in Georgia, surrounded by their friends and family and children. In addition to the Justice League star’s three children, Lopez shares twins Max and Emme, 14, with ex-husband Marc Anthony.
Earlier this month, the “Let’s Get Loud” songstress reflected on how things have changed for them since their first attempt at a relationship. “We were so young and so in love at that time, really very carefree, with no kids, no attachments,” Lopez told Vogue. “And we were just living our lives, being happy and out there. It didn’t feel like we needed to hide from anybody or be real discreet. We were just living out loud, and it turned out to really bite us. There was a lot underneath the surface there, people not wanting us to be together, people thinking I wasn’t the right person for him.”
After revealing that she became “very guarded” following their 2004 split, the New York native explained that when she and Affleck reconnected, they were careful to keep things out of the spotlight.
“Obviously, we weren’t trying to go out in public,” Lopez recalled. “But I never shied away from the fact that for me, I always felt like there was a real love there, a true love there. People in my life know that he was a very, very special person in my life. When we reconnected, those feelings for me were still very real.”
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