Battered-wife role was a stretch for Lopez

May 30, 2002|By Ron Dicker | Ron Dicker,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

NEW YORK - Jennifer Lopez has had crazy romances, but nothing compared with what her battered-wife character has in Enough.

"I've never been in a relationship where there was any kind of physical contact like that, so it was hard to go there," she said in a recent interview. "Even to act it is a bad feeling."

Lopez, 32, likened her character in Enough (it opened Friday) to a female "Rocky," an empowerment lesson for both sexes.

"Anybody can relate to being in a negative situation and a negative relationship," she said. "You have the power within yourself. You have to stop it."

Lopez's Slim has a fairy-tale romance with a contractor (Billy Campbell of TV's Once and Again) that turns into an all-week version of the Friday night fights. She flees with her daughter, Gracie, but her husband has the resources to track her. So Slim prepares for a life-or-death smackdown against her much bigger spouse. She takes a crash course in the Israeli martial-art of Krav Maga with the idea of killing him in self-defense.

There is no such strife in Lopez's real life. She has settled in with Cris Judd, a dancer she married in September. They met while shooting her Love Don't Cost a Thing video.

"I don't like to talk about Cris in public because I've learned my lessons from past relationships," she said. "Everything's good."

Apparently Enough was enough. Lopez, who claims to never have taken a day off during a film or recording session, felt besieged one day during shooting. A family member asked her for a loan. Another pregnancy story splashed across the tabloids. And the fatigue from a demanding lead role in a feature mixed with shooting music videos on weekends reached her breaking point. She requested a sit-down with the director, Michael Apted.

"I told Michael `I can't go on,'" she said. "`I, like, hit the wall. I'm not a weak person.' He goes, `I know you're not.' It was so touching."

Lopez saw a doctor and took three days off, letting friends cook for her. "It was like a purging," she said.

Before they worked together, Apted questioned his leading lady's multitasking. "I was panicking," he said. "What I learned about her is that she focuses on what's in front of her."

During an interview, Lopez looked ready for the prom in a sleeveless white gown and hoop earrings. Stories persist about her diva behavior, but the former In Living Color fly girl can sure dance around a room. She also charmed her director and at least one Enough co-star.

"I had let the rumors seep in," said Noah Wyle of TV's ER. "I went to J-Lo's house with Michael [Apted]. I thought she'd come sweeping down the balcony and bite my head off."

Instead, Wyle said, he got to know a team player who already was in makeup and costume when he showed up on the set at 6 a.m. "It became clear to me why she is as successful as she is," he said.

Lopez's ascent has included dealing with failure. Last year's Angel Eyes was a box-office dud after her previous movies, The Cell and The Wedding Planner, debuted in the top spot. Shrugging her shoulders, the actress-singer-designer-producer explained that she could not hit a home run every time.

She'll have plenty of at-bats coming up. She co-stars with Ben Affleck in Gigli, a comedy about contract killers due out next year. She signed to do a screen adaptation of Carmen and in a separate announcement she forged a three-movie deal with Sony.

Reaching her level of celebrity is bound to create resentment along the way, but Lopez has found the balm to soothe the enmity around her.

"Success is the best revenge," she said. "Keenen Ivory Wayans told me that years ago."

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