When the full-length trailer for Jennifer Lopez’s upcoming Prime Video original was released a few weeks ago, many fans were a little confused by what they saw.
The two-and-a-half minute trailer crammed in everything from Bollywood-esque dance numbers to group therapy sessions to sci-fi setpieces, as alongside a soundtrack of brand new J Lo music.
What … is it, fans wondered? A music video? A visual album? A big budget Hollywood musical?
The special is in fact a visual accompaniment to J Lo’s upcoming ninth studio album, This Is Me … Now, released this Friday.
The album serves as a sequel to her 2002 effort This Is Me … Then. The two records share a similar musical DNA: Both are J Lo deep in her R&B bag, serving intimate love songs rather than four-on-the-floor bangers.
They also have one other thing in common: Ben Affleck. The pair were in an intense, very public relationship back in the early noughties, before they split and both married other people. Eventually, they found their way back to each other, and finally tied the knot in 2022.
While Affleck doesn’t feature in the special, the unusual path of their relationship has served as inspiration for the story, which features Lopez as an unnamed love addict who embarks on a fantastical, musical journey to achieving inner peace so that she can truly be ready for love.
As you might have guessed from that description, the resulting film is quite camp and is best watched with several friends and several more drinks (Pro tip: Take a shot every time J Lo suddenly bursts into song or addresses her inner child).
Given the personal origins of This Is Me … Then, nothing is off limits when J Lo hops on a Zoom call to discuss the project. Refreshingly, this is no celeb interview where personal questions are out of bounds – on the contrary, Lopez brings up her husband several times unprompted in the conversation, explaining how their reconnection had inspired her latest project.
“I always was making and doing music separately, but I always knew I wanted to kind of mush them together, but I just didn’t know how,” Lopez said of the special’s origins.
Inspiration struck when her relationship with Affleck was rekindled after all those years.
“I was incredibly inspired when Ben came back into my life and having the kind of blessing of this second chance at true love and it just kind of poured out of me. And then once it was done, it just felt very special.”
Lopez is clearly a canny celebrity, aware that many fans have been just as invested in the ups and downs of her love life (Affleck is her fourth husband) over the years as they have been on her music and movies. She said she hoped This Is Me … Then would give them an indication of where she’s at now.
“People have been on this journey with me my whole life: Is she really going to find love? What’s going to happen with her? And I had a lot of questions: Does true love exist? Does anything last forever? And once I felt like I had answers, I wanted to share it,” she said.
“The interesting thing is how did I get from here to here? How did this happen? And so there was just another part of the story to tell.”
While using her own life as inspiration for the album and special felt “natural”, Lopez also conceded she had some reservations about exposing so much of herself.
“When you’ve been in the public eye for as long as I have, you’ve gone through times where people have been cruel or mean about you … so at times I was very afraid to use the inspiration of some of the things that had happened in my own life in the movie,” she said.
“But I can’t ever as an artist allow that to dictate really what my gut is telling me to do. So I just kind of followed my heart.”
This Is Me Now: A Love Story launches globally on Prime Video February 16, coinciding with the release of the album This Is Me … Now.