Wife Guy

Ben Affleck Supports and Steals The Greatest Love Story Never Told 

J.Lo may be the star of This Is Me…Now, but her Prime documentary, The Greatest Love Story Never Told, is all about her husband, Ben Affleck. 
Image may contain Ben Affleck Jennifer Lopez Fashion Adult Person Accessories Formal Wear Tie Head Face and Happy
Lionel Hahn/WireImage

Jennifer Lopez has taken passion projects to a new level with her latest endeavor, This Is Me…Now. Against the advice of her friends and business associates, Lopez spent $20 million to produce the visual album, which plunges audiences headfirst into her highly scrutinized romantic life, her multiple marriages, and her addiction to being loved. Throughout the journey, Lopez is center stage, serving as subject, star, writer, and auteur in a project the Daily Beast called “a glowing shrine to narcissism and its many casualties.” 

But while it’s true that Jennifer Lopez is the petal-devouring heart of This Is Me…Now, the accompanying documentary about the making of the visual album, The Greatest Love Story Never Told, reveals the true star of this entire endeavor: Ben Affleck.

Affleck briefly appears in This Is Me…Now as a Fox News–esque television pundit, Rex Stone (and yes, it’s as bizarre as it sounds). But in The Greatest Love Story Never Told, his real role as muse, unwavering support system, and skeptic comes to the fore. Lopez wastes no time bringing up Affleck in the documentary, opening with the fact that she’s been married four times and that Affleck is the love of her life. She then reveals that to celebrate their first Christmas as a reunited couple, Affleck made Lopez a secret book of all the emails and letters they sent each other during both iterations of their relationship—in the aughts, and now. That book served as a major source of creative inspiration for This Is Me…Now, with members of J.Lo’s crew going so far as to nickname her husband “Pen Affleck.”

Affleck doesn’t seem exactly thrilled about his personal musings being made public. “I did really find the beauty and the poetry and the irony in the fact that it’s the greatest love story never told,” he says in the doc. “And if you’re making a record about it, that seems kind of like telling it.” 

Even so, the Oscar winner expresses his discomfort while simultaneously understanding that this is just what artist’s do. “Jen was really inspired by this experience, which is how artists do their work. I know as a writer and director, I certainly do those things,” he says. “But things that are private, I’d always felt were sacred and special—because, in part, they’re private. So that was a bit of an adjustment for me.”

The Air director is not the only star who had misgivings about the film. In one sequence, J.Lo and her team go through a list of celebrities they offered parts to, to no avail. “Taylor Swift is a no,” says a member of J.Lo’s coterie during a casting meeting. Jason Momoa, Jennifer Coolidge, Lizzo, and Ariana Grande are all “unavailable.” Someone suggests Vanessa Hudgens, and J.Lo shoots back, “For what?” It doesn’t matter—Hudgens is also unavailable. Anthony Ramos originally agrees to do the film, but ends up dropping out because of his friendship with Lopez’s ex-husband Marc Anthony. Lopez’s Monster-in-Law costar and friend Jane Fonda expresses her reservations point-blank, saying that “it feels too much like you’re trying to prove something instead of living it.” Yet Lopez successfully convinces Fonda to come on board and assures her that their song is as legit as her hit single “I’m Real” from 2001. 

Fonda aside, it’s clear from the film that the only person Lopez can completely rely on is her “papi,” Affleck. He patiently sits with Lopez and helps her type up dialogue. He stands just off camera while J.Lo is shooting, laughing at the dailies and complimenting actors in the film. He showers her with support when she starts spiraling about the quality of the movie. “You’re going to be scared to suck until it doesn’t,” he says. “You’ve got to discern between things that suck, DNA-wise, and things that just don’t work right.” 

And when Lopez calls him out for being an award-winning director who “wrote all the things when he was 21,” he immediately gasses her up. “If I was doing a musical concert, if I was doing a rock show, I would say to you, ‘Tell me how this goes,’” Affleck says. When he is not by her side because he has to attend the SXSW premiere of his film Air, Lopez completely breaks down. “I’m really sad that I wasn’t there with him this weekend,” she says before the tears begin to flow. “He is just wondering, like, Is it worth it? I don’t know.”  After all that we’ve seen him do for her, we honestly don’t know either. 

But Affleck is not only there for support. He also provides many of the doc’s most entertaining, realest moments: knowingly smirking while calling Lopez out for making herself younger in the movie; sharing a laugh with her about Gigli, their total flop of a film from 2003. The doc captures Affleck fully geeking out over various types of cameras, like a true film nerd: “We have primes, ultra primes. This is a Zeiss compact zoom. This is an ARRI Zoom. This is the older, compact Angenieux Zoom,” he says. “I don’t care,” Lopez replies. Seeing this, you actually believe they’re a real couple. 

Arguably the realest the two get is when Affleck ask Lopez during a confessional if she’ll ever forgive him for their first breakup years ago. “I think I was angry at you for a long time,” she responds. “But that heartbreak set both of us on a course to figuring ourselves out to being better people. I think I’ve forgiven you all the way. I think I need to forgive myself [for] some things.” 

Affleck also reveals that the media attention they received when they first dated was the catalyst for that breakup. When they got back together, he says, he told Lopez, “Listen, one of the things I don’t want is a relationship on social media.” Then, Affleck continues, “I sort of realized it’s not a fair thing to ask. It’s sort of like, you’re going to marry a boat captain, and [you’re like], ‘Well, I don’t like the water.’” After stealing the show in The Greatest Story Ever Told, Affleck certainly seems comfortable at sea.