[Originally published in DTM Magazine Issue #68; May 2010]
Whenever one sits down with an interview with a woman known as “La Lopez” or-more infamously- “J-Lo,” one assumes that they are sitting down with a diva of epic proportions, one who rivals such unimonikered celebrities as Britney, Cher, and Madonna in terms of ego and diva-like demands. After all, there isn’t a music industry professional around who hasn’t seen her purported “Artist’s Rider” on The Smoking Gun.
In fairness-as this veteran of the music industry can attest-her rider, with the exception of the Diptyque candles (retail value: $60 per candle), doesn’t particularly stand out as excessively “diva-esque.” (The most notoriously excessive rider that I’ve seen belonged to-of all people-Fiona Apple, with DMX in close second…repaint the room, Fiona? Really?)
In actuality, however J-Lo really still is “Jenny from the Block.” When she speaks, you feel as though you’re talking to a typical Mom-effusive and glowing, with a sense of genuine love for both the Dad (in this case, Marc Anthony, her husband of six years) and the children (fraternal twins Max and Emme)- and not a superstar of international proportions. And this sense is equally disarming and refreshing.
Lopez is eager to talk about “The Back-Up Plan“, her first major film since 2006’s “El Cantante“, and I am happy to oblige her: “I remember watching it thinking that it was very funny but that if I had a tear in the end it would be really good, and it happened!”
In the film, Lopez plays Zoe, an unmarried woman who is desperate for a child. With no immediate romantic prospects on the horizon, Zoe is artifically inseminated with her best friend’s sperm. Newly pregnant, but not yet showing and still unaware of her new state, she meets Stan (Alex O’Loughlin), and the two start dating. Romantic complications-and side-spitting hilarity-ensue once she reveals to him that she was pregnant when they met.
“This romantic comedy felt modern,” said Lopez, “in the sense that it refers to an in-vitro pregnancy. That’s not something you would have seen 20 years ago“.
“Zoe is very strong, brave and independent; but in a very different way than I am, as she didn’t grow up with a family like I did. But precisely because I grew up with a lot of love, I also need it and rely on more people, whereas Zoe is strong enough to make the decision to have kids on her own. I don’t think I could do that.”
Lopez also speaks in glowing terms about her co-star, Alex O’Loughlin, the Australian actor who is perhaps best known for his role as Kevin Hyatt in FX’s “The Shield“:
“Alex is awesome! It was his first romantic comedy and there was a freshness about him that was great. He also has a bit of an edge. I loved working with him and he is very good at what he does.”
Critics are already hailing The Back-Up Plan as a triumph: Kirk Honeycutt from The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a positive review, saying that Lopez gave “a winning performance.” But there is one co-star that may be giving Lopez a run for her money in the “star power” department: Nuts, the terrier dog with bat-like ears that swivel like satellite dishes, ever present throughout the film with an apropos inquisitive face. He’s already making the rounds on the press circuit, handing out his “pawagraph” to delighted fans in an effort to raise social consciousness on the family pets.
Lopez, however, is quick to divulge Nuts’ secret to success: “We had three of them [playing Nuts]. One was good at walking, the other was good at faces, and the last one had other talents. But they were all great at putting Nuts together.”
Nuts, actually is the basis for the deeper meaning behind the film: Zoe owns a “hip” Greenwich Village pet boutique called Hudson Mutts that caters to pet adoptions and enviornmentally friendly and healthy pet care. As Zoe’s dog, Nuts provided the inspiration to create a socially conscious pet store. “That says a lot about her,” said Lopez. “She didn’t enjoy being in the corporate world anymore, and wanted her life to have more purpose. I think Zoe is always searching for love, and having the pet store and Nuts helped her.”
Socially conscious pet stores, alternative methods of motherhood, superstar dogs, and nonstop wackiness: The Back-Up Plan is definitely not your typical romantic comedy! For Lopez, though a good romantic comedy is all about the journey: “We know how they start and how they end, so it’s the meat in the middle that matters. A romantic comedy has to be funny and make you think about life, but the obstacle that has to be overcome is the key. I like The Back-Up Plan because that obstacle isn’t typical.”
And neither, thankfully, is Jennifer Lopez.