Jennifer Lopez

Kiss'n'tell: J-Lo, Bennifer and awkward love-life revelations

Author: Editors Desk, Deborah Nicholls-Lee Source: BBC News:
March 5, 2024 at 06:02
Amazon Studios
Amazon Studios
With J-Lo's new documentary The Greatest Love Story Never Told spilling the beans on her relationship with Ben Affleck, as well as the publication of love letters from George Harrison and Eric Clapton to Pattie Boyd, what happens when stars decide to over-share?

Is it okay to kiss and tell? Lately, it seems that there's no shame in it.

The documentary The Greatest Love Story Never Told, released on 27 February, is a self-styled celebration of Jennifer Lopez's rekindled relationship with actor-filmmaker Ben Affleck. It takes its name from a book of love letters compiled by Affleck, and makes Lopez the latest in a stream of celebrities to share intimate correspondence with the public.

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Released in November, Barbra Streisand's autobiography My Name is Barbra, a bestseller, included a gushing letter from co-star Omar Sharif pleading with Streisand to leave her husband for him. "The thing I want most in my life is to have you with me, to go everywhere together, to hold you in my arms, to put you to sleep and to wake you up. To kiss you, talk to you, love you with all my being… And all the time you're singing to me," he writes to her. "He had me until the line about my singing," she mocks.

Getty Images Pattie Boyd and George Harrison married in 1966 (Credit: Getty Images)
Getty Images
Pattie Boyd and George Harrison married in 1966 (Credit: Getty Images)

Pattie Boyd, the ex-wife of George Harrison and, later, Eric Clapton, is also taking up the trend, with Christie's auctioning The Pattie Boyd Collection (8-22 March 2024), a huge lot featuring unseen photographs she took of her exes and private letters she received from them.

There's a scribbled note from Harrison in green ink: "Pattie, don't forget I love you." And later, a besotted Clapton tries to lure Boyd away from him with a neatly written letter addressed to "Layla", his nickname for her, and penned on a page torn from Of Mice and Men. "For nothing more than the pleasure past, I would sacrifice my family, my god, and my own existence," he writes. The letter becomes increasingly desperate: "Am i a poor lover, am I ugly, too weak, too strong…?"

Alongside Harrison's timeless ballad Something (1969), Boyd would inspire Clapton's Layla (1971), one of rock's most iconic guitar anthems. "Like a fool, I fell in love with you," he sings. "You turned my whole world upside down." In 1974, when the couple finally got together, Clapton wrote Wonderful Tonight as an ode to her.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Boyd said Clapton was aware of the sale. "He's absolutely fine with me auctioning everything," she said. With some letters valued in excess of £10,000, it's clear that cashing in on celebrity secrets is extremely lucrative. As far as Boyd is concerned, selling her love letters is an act of sharing: "I've enjoyed them for many, many years, and now it's time for other people to see and enjoy them," she tells Christie's. "It's only right that I pass them on."

Lopez's decision to create a body of work based on her relationship with Affleck − which spans more than two decades with a 17-year hiatus in the middle − is an unusual one, given the circumstances of their 2004 split. It was "the massive amount of scrutiny around our private life", explains Affleck in the documentary, that led to the pair breaking up just three days before their planned wedding.

Inviting interest

Now, Lopez appears to be actively inviting public interest in the couple. The serial romantic, who captured fans' hearts when, after three failed marriages, she finally tied the knot in 2022 with first love Affleck, is laying their relationship bare with This is Me… Now, a semi-autobiographical album and film chronicling her search for love (released 16 February), and The Greatest Love Story Never Told, a documentary about the film's creation. "I have decided to tell my story, or tell my truth, that I've never shared with anybody in the world, which is the truth about my personal life," she announces in the documentary.

Amazon Studios In her new autobiographical musical film This Is Me... Now: A Love Story, Lopez plays a character who tries to work out why she's been so unlucky in love (Credit: Amazon Studios)
Amazon Studios
In her new autobiographical musical film This Is Me... Now: A Love Story, Lopez plays a character who tries to work out why she's been so unlucky in love (Credit: Amazon Studios)

an early scene, Lopez is filmed holding up a black file box. "This book is a book Ben gave me on our first Christmas back together. It is every letter and every email that we wrote to each other from 20 years ago and today," she says. On the cover, Affleck has written: "The greatest love story never told by Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck 2001-2021 and counting".

But Lopez has chosen to tell the story after all. To provide inspiration for This is Me… Now, the book of letters was even shared with her team, who, she says, "would thumb through it", soon dubbing its compiler "Pen Affleck". "She would pick one and she would let us touch them and read them," says songwriter and collaborator Faangs in the documentary. Affleck was surprised to stumble upon this scene and tells the camera: "Things that are private, I've always felt, are sacred and special because, in part, they're private, so this was something of an adjustment for me."

Particularly controversial was the decision to include a close-up of what is believed to be a copy of a 2002 letter from Affleck. It reads: "Life's tough but you're sweet. Thanks for the gift. Hope you like the flowers. You told me you could never have enough… I believe you. Bx."

There's no doubt that the "Bennifer" love story is epic, but some feel making their correspondence the basis for an artistic project risks tarnishing rather than elevating their narrative. Lopez's producing partner Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas says in the film: "I wasn't sure if I wanted her to reveal all this; I wasn't sure if it was necessary."

For Lopez, however, sharing a private letter or two serves a higher purpose. "I just want people to believe that love exists," she says. "And if I can use my story to do that, then, as an artist, that's what I should do."


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