When Jennifer Lopez decided to sing the Neil Diamond traditional “Sweet Caroline” on the Global Citizen live performance on May 2, it served double responsibility.
Not solely was the tune — the unofficial anthem of the Boston Red Sox — a diss at her current ex, former Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez. It was additionally a flirty wink at her long-ago ex, Ben Affleck, who appeared simply after her at the occasion.
“It was absolutely for Ben! And it also worked to piss off A-Rod,” an Affleck supply informed The Post.
When Affleck and Lopez — dubbed “Bennifer” on the top of their first relationship, which lasted from 2002 to 2004 — had been noticed vacationing together in Montana days later, close pals had been shocked by what appears to be like like a rekindling.
“We thought they were just friends,” mentioned the Affleck supply. “Even people close to Ben were taken by surprise.”
Then once more, a supply who is aware of each Affleck and Lopez informed The Post: “She was always obsessed with Ben. They have always loved each other.”
In 2002, Affleck and Lopez had been a match made in tabloid heaven. She was the New York glamour puss. He was the low-key Boston man, into baseball, beer and poker. They met on the set of “Gigli,” with Affleck starring as a hitman and Lopez as an murderer despatched to maintain him in line.
The film would show to be a flop. But the celebrities clicked — and have become greater than ever off-screen. Despite the variations of their Hollywood lives, they discovered compatibility of their backgrounds. Lopez was a working-class child from the Castle Hill part of the Bronx; Affleck had related roots in Cambridge, Mass.
“I remember Ben bringing her to a friend’s party,” Lopez’s then-publicist Rob Shuter informed The Post. “It was beer and red wine in plastic Solo cups. She sat on a folding chair and loved it. Being J.Lo is complicated and Ben was able to simplify it.”
“The only time you didn’t feel like you were with ‘J.Lo’,” Shuter mentioned of her fastidiously crafted picture, “was when Ben was around.”
Lopez was nonetheless married to her second husband, dancer Cris Judd, when she met Affleck. Months later, they had been cut up and Affleck and Lopez had been publicly collectively. It was the period when tabloid magazines like Us Weekly and Star had been at their buzziest — and the paparazzi at their craziest. “Bennifer” was the couple of the moment.
Their relationship was fueled by “electricity,” Shuter, writer of “The Four Word Answer,” recalled. “It was the most exciting thing to be around.”
The apex of the connection got here in the summertime of 2002, with the filming of Lopez’s “Jenny From the Block” music video — wherein the 2 had been seen kissing in a Bentley and laughing at journal protection of their romance. Affleck appeared the ultimate doting boyfriend: following J.Lo out of her limo, pumping fuel, and actually kissing her butt whereas the 2 cruised on a catamaran.
In actual life, he additionally knew easy methods to pay her the form of consideration she craved. Affleck confirmed up unannounced for a Lopez efficiency on “Today.” Another time, he stunned her on the pink carpet with flowers. She returned the favor by dedicating a track to him, “Dear Ben,” on her “This Is Me … Then” album: “You’re perfect / I just can’t control myself.”
Affleck discovered his means into the material of Lopez’s household. “Ben taught Guadalupe [Lopez’s mom] how to gamble,” recalled Shuter of Affleck, a infamous gambler once banned from a Las Vegas casino for card counting. “And she won a massive sum in Atlantic City.”
Bennifer acquired engaged in November 2002 with a six-carat pink diamond.
They teamed up for the film “Jersey Girl,” however the August 2003 launch of “Gigli” highlighted cracks within the relationship, because the couple was caught selling a stink bomb.
“It almost appeared that they had guns to their heads,” mentioned a photographer who snapped the 2 on the “Gigli” premiere.
“Ben’s ego is bigger than hers,” mentioned a supply who labored with them. “‘Gigli’ tanking was a bigger deal to him and he was jealous of her superstardom. Photographers would see Ben and Jen together and they would ask for Jennifer to stand alone. Ben would step out of the shot but not like it. The photographers would say, ‘J.Lo alone! J.Lo alone!’ But they never asked for Ben to stand alone.”
A short historical past of Bennifer 1.0
Houston Curtis, an expert gambler who has performed poker with Affleck, remembered that Lopez gave her fiancée the enterprise throughout a sport at LA’s Bicycle Club. “Ben was playing in a game with [poker pro] Annie Duke when an announcement came over the PA system,” Curtis informed The Post. “It said, ‘Ben, you have a call from Jennifer! Ben Affleck, you have a call from Jennifer!’ He looked annoyed, shrugged and went to answer the phone.”
Another time, Curtis recalled, Affleck was in a sport at a Beverly Hills dwelling when a participant misplaced a hand to a pair of queens. Grumbled Affleck: “Try living with a queen.”
The supply who is aware of each Ben and Jennifer informed The Post: “They broke up because he cheated on her and, at the time, he had the chance to be a very big star. What he was doing with her didn’t fit into his image. He had all these people in his ear.”
In 2008, Affleck mentioned: “If I have a regret, it was doing the music video.”
Still, “I think he was the happiest he’s ever been with her,” mentioned the supply who is aware of each of them.
The couple known as off the marriage in September 2003 and formally ended their relationship in January 2004. In March, “Jersey Girl” tanked on the field workplace. By June, Lopez wed singer Marc Anthony.
Lopez would go on to divorce Anthony, have a relationship with Casper Smart — an actor 17 years her junior — and date Rodriguez from 2017 to March of this 12 months. Affleck was married to actress Jennifer Garner from 2005 to 2018 and dated “Saturday Night Live” producer Lindsay Shookus and actress Ana de Armas.
Over the years, Lopez and Affleck got here again to being associates. According to an insider, Affleck acquired his second likelihood with her after Rodriguez was worn down by the work of relationship J.Lo — the picture, not the girl.
“A-Rod never understood what Jennifer needed to do to maintain her public image,” the insider mentioned. “He was looking for a quieter life and could not keep up with her need to be in front of the public all the time.”
A rep for Rodriguez denied this. Lopez’s consultant had no remark.
As that relationship was ending, TMZ reported, Affleck sent Lopez a note whereas she was filming the film “Shotgun Wedding,” telling Lopez how nice she seemed.
The insider informed The Post that the second time round could possibly be the allure for Bennifer.
“Playing the field and going out with younger guys is the last thing Jennifer wants to do,” mentioned the insider. “She does not want to go on Raya and get to know new people. They both have fond memories of being together.”
Shuter believes the time aside will work of their favor. “Jennifer does not drink [or] party, she works out every day,” Shuter mentioned, referencing Affleck’s well-known stints in rehab for substance abuse. “She brings discipline to Ben’s life. He brings normality to hers. Ben lives a very normal life.”
“A lot of us would love to have a second chance with the one who got away,” Shuter added. “I won’t be surprised if they get engaged again. As far as I know, she never gave back the ring.”
Additional reporting by Ian Mohr