She laughs because of course she would see it thus, because love is her big project in this world, her messy, public, decades-long, sometimes glamorous, sometimes treacherous, often thwarted project, the lens that when it comes down over her eyes can’t help but turn everything as pink as the six-carat diamond with which Ben Affleck proposed to her the first time, in 2002. But Atlas—the movie she is shooting today, part of a new deal between her film company, Nuyorican Productions, and Netflix—isn’t most people’s idea of a love story. In fact, it’s a straight-up sci-fi action thriller, in which Lopez plays a military intelligence analyst assigned to reconfigure a potentially lethal form of artificial intelligence. Though the costumery is more Mad Max than Wedding Planner, scholars of the Jennifer Lopez catalog will find in Atlas’s protagonist a familiar character: the headstrong careerist with little time for life’s mushier feelings until the right man (or droid) comes along.
“Closed off. Totally obsessed with her work. Dealing with a lot of pain and sadness from her childhood,” Lopez continues, making an explicit allusion to the porousness that has characterized the relationship between her life and her art over the last three decades. “She has to learn how to let him in so that they can be stronger together.”
We are sitting between takes in her tent on the soundstage, where great efforts have been made to create an oasis on a hectic, buzzing set. Her favorite candle flickers on a cream-colored faux-shagreen desk, and a black Hermès blanket is draped over the massage table. In the little living room, a marble chess set rests on a marble coffee table, and above it hangs a green neon sign whose soft cursive reads “Mrs. Affleck.” It was a gift from the crew.