"It's just that 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," Affleck recalled to Damon.
Ben Affleck is reflecting on working on the 2003 romantic comedy "Gigli" alongside Jennifer Lopez, as well as the public's response to the film and their relationship.
In a new interview with his longtime friend and "The Last Duel" co-star, Matt Damon, for Entertainment Weekly's February cover story, Affleck opened up about his new movie, "The Tender Bar," while also taking a look back at several of his past films, including "Gigli."
Despite the fact that the romcom was ripped by critics and audiences, and bombed at the box office, Affleck explained what he learned from the experience, sharing why it was ultimately a "gift" for both his career and love life.
"The truth about that movie and what it taught me was how much everything around a movie sort of dictates the way people see it. But for being a movie that's such a famous bomb and a disaster, very few people actually saw the movie," recalled Affleck, 49, who began dating Lopez -- for the first time -- after they met on the set of the romcom. "It doesn't work, by the way. It's a sort of horse's head in a cow's body. And the studio at the time, because I had begun having this relationship with Jennifer Lopez, which was selling a lot of magazines and appeared to generate a lot of enthusiasm, they just predictably latched onto, 'They want a romantic comedy. They want the two of them together. More of that!' And it was just like that 'SNL' sketch: "Bad Idea."
Although "Gigli" "didn't work," the Oscar winner noted that it wasn't "worse than all," saying that he's "had five movies -- at least! -- that have lost more money." Affleck then explained why the film "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," he said. "And I remember talking to [director Marty Brest] the Friday it came out and I was like it's just spectacular, it's a tsunami, it couldn't be worse. This is as bad as it gets."
Looking back, the "Justice League" star said he understands "how people looked at me and thought of this person as some callow frat guy who's cavalier, or has too much." He added, "It engendered a lot of negative feelings in people about me. There's that aspect of people that I got to see that was sad and hard, it was depressing and really made me question things and feel disappointed and have a lot of self-doubt."
However, Affleck admitted that being a part of the film pushed him into directing, and of course, brought him Lopez.
"But if the reaction to 'Gigli' hadn't happened, I probably wouldn't have ultimately decided, 'I don't really have any other avenue but to direct movies,' which has turned out to be the real love of my professional life," he explained. "So in those ways, it's a gift. And I did get to meet Jennifer, the relationship with whom has been really meaningful to me in my life."
"Jennifer and I happened to be together at a time where the whole industry of celebrity journalism, if you want to call it that, sort of exploded," he continued. "But I thought, 'S---, this is really not how I had hoped to go, where I'm going to be, what? Famous for being an asshole or a failure and not able to work?'"
Affleck added, "But one of the things that time showed me is that it is those moments of crisis or pain or perspective that are strong enough to make you go, 'F--- it. Well, this doesn't work. I've got to do something different.' I've definitely learned more from failure than I have from success."
Affleck and Lopez became engaged in 2002 after only a few months of dating. The two later postponed their wedding in 2003, before breaking up in 2004. Many years later, following Lopez's split from Alex Rodriguez in Spring 2021, Affleck and Lopez rekindled their romance and got back together.
The couple made their relationship Instagram official for Lopez's 52nd birthday in July 2021 while vacationing in Europe.