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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Jennifer Lopez: 'I get better better as I get older'

star quality: Singer-dancer-actress-producer, Jennifer Lopez doesn't do things by halves - including sex scenes. Jeananne Craig finds out why she turned down a body double for her latest movie

Jennifer Lopez arrives at the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party
Jennifer Lopez arrives at the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party
Actress Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez enters the room clutching a frothy coffee, her famous curves poured into an all-black ensemble and her skin glowing like a woman half her age.

The 45-year-old is here to talk about her new film The Boy Next Door, about a teacher who has an affair with her teenage neighbour - and she admits she's feeling sexier than ever.

What's more, the singer and actress - whose former boyfriend, dancer Casper Smart, was 18 years her junior - is glad Hollywood no longer sees it as "shocking" that older women can be attractive to younger men.

"I think it's more realised than ever that women are at our best, and that we get better as we get older," says the mother-of-two, who also co-produced the film.

If you're looking for a feminist message, however, you won't find it in this rather raunchy thriller.

"Nah," says Bronx-born Lopez, who recently impressed on the Oscars red carpet in a sparkling tulle gown. "This is NOT that movie," she admits with a laugh.

The Jenny From The Block singer plays Claire Peterson, a high-school English teacher (you'll have to suspend your disbelief as the stunning superstar strolls through the school corridors) who is newly single after separating from her unfaithful husband, and whose teenage son Kevin is being bullied.

weakness

Kevin ends up finding a friend in their handsome new 19-year-old neighbour Noah (played by Pretty Little Liars star Ryan Guzman), whose attraction to Claire is clear from the start.

She bonds with Noah over their shared love of literature and in a moment of weakness, spends a very steamy night - all washboard stomachs and golden skin - with him.

"She's so vulnerable that she makes a terrible mistake, something that she would normally never do. I feel like that's such a human thing," says Lopez, who is mum to seven-year-old twins Emme and Max with ex-husband Marc Anthony.

"We're all looking to anaesthetise ourselves at certain times and with certain things, when we go though hard times. Then this guy comes along.

"It was funny," she adds. "Somebody told me that all their girlfriends watching the movie were like, 'Nooo, don't do it!'"

Unlike many A-listers, Lopez decided not to have a body double for the sex scene ("it was all me... and all Ryan"), choosing instead to eat carefully and put in some extra hours at the gym beforehand.

After their night of passion, Claire realises her mistake and tries to draw a line under the episode.

Noah has other plans, however; his lust turns into a violent and dangerous obsession and he tries to blackmail his older lover with proof of their tryst.

Director Rob Cohen auditioned around 150 young actors to play Noah before choosing Guzman (who is 27 in real life).

"Going from the boy next door to a sociopath, is no small feat for an actor of any age or experience," says Lopez, whose big acting break came starring opposite George Clooney in the 1998 crime comedy Out Of Sight.

"We knew that it was such a challenging role for any young actor, but Ryan came in and right away showed us that he knew what he had to do to play this character."

As the film gets darker, the action sequences build up, from car chases to a fight scene, which ends with a huge fire.

"Even though this was a character-driven drama, we had a lot of action in it," says Lopez.

sleepover

"We were lucky enough to have a great stunt coordinator to make things look dangerous, but you still get beat up doing those stunts."

When Lopez isn't acting, singing, or working as a judge on American Idol, she's at home in Los Angeles, spending quality time with her son and daughter.

"We have so many different little rituals that we do," she says with a smile.

"Every Friday night, I let them bring their sleeping bags into my room and we do a sleepover. We watch a movie together, then they fall asleep, and then once they're asleep, they don't wake up for anything."

While The Boy Next Door isn't likely to win any awards, its leading lady is pleased to have been a part of it.

"There was just something really great about this character for me at this time in my life," Lopez notes.

"I find that, often during my life, I have attracted whatever it is I need to work out, for some reason. It's very serendipitous in that way."

The Boy Next Door is released this Friday

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