Jennifer Lopez talks to Michele Manelis about visiting strip clubs ahead of her new movie, Hustlers
I know you did a lot of research for this role as a stripper. What kind of insight did you gain into the minds of these women?
They were like, "I'm proud of my body, what is there to be ashamed of?" They were all very different. One girl was a single mum, one girl was in college, they were from all walks of life but what they had in common was that stripping was like an addiction. Every night you think you're going to hit the jackpot. Once you get up there, and people are throwing money at you. You realise that maybe you're going to get that big score tonight. One of the women told me, "Sometimes I go home with $40, sometimes I go home with $5000." I realised that for them it's like going to the casino. You might just win or you just might win big.
How difficult were the physical demands of the role, especially the pole dancing?
It was fun to learn but it was difficult. It was hard. I was very bruised and very beaten-up by it. I had huge, huge bruises all over my legs and my shoulders. I had to really train a lot, even in the gym, to gain upper and core strength.
I know you went to some strip clubs for research. Who did you go with?
Alex [Rodriguez, her fiance] went with me as well as my sister and a couple of other people. We were a little bit like flies on the wall. And the girls asked, "Do you want to dance?" But I was like, "Hmm ... I think I want to just watch."
What did you learn about men from this experience?
That you can't be so naive and that you have to understand the psychology of men a little bit. And it's different from women, it's very different from women. And I think that's what occurred to me the most, like, "Wow. There is a whole culture of people who really do this and men who live a double life and this is going on every day." It was kind of eye-opening.
Do you think strippers also lead a double life?
I think to a certain degree strippers do have somewhat of a double life. They do this thing at night and then they go off into their life and they are normal people. They wear jeans and a sweatshirt and have a regular life.
You look incredible. Is it true that your beauty secret is that you don't drink alcohol?
That's one of them. I just never started drinking and I never smoked, so maybe that helped my skin stay young. I take care of myself.
And being happy helps.
Being happy always makes you look better. Right?
Congratulations on your engagement to Alex. Was it a surprise?
Yeah, obviously I'm looking forward to it. We don't have any concrete plans right now but did I see it coming? I think Alex and I had a connection from the very beginning and maybe could see a future for ourselves. And we talked about it a few times but when he proposed it was a surprise for me.
With both of you so famous, can you do the grocery shopping?
Well, I'm not much of a grocery shopper to be honest.
Why does that not surprise me? What do you think works so well between you and Alex?
I think we love each other and we love being around each other and we have a lot of respect for each other. I think that's a big part of it. I think both of us show up for each other. That's a big deal in a relationship, especially when you are both strong people who have two big lives, you have to be there for each other and you have to show up. And that means yes, coming to my concerts and me going to his [baseball] games.
You work all the time. Can you ever just sit by the pool and not do anything?
Well, it's the curse of being someone who is very creative. Even when you're relaxing, it's almost like that's when you get the most creative, because you have a moment to breathe. So it's a blessing and a curse in a sense, because you don't get to relax in the same way and then once you get on a creative flow, you're obsessed with it and you don't stop thinking about it.
You've maintained a lot of the same friendships for many years. That's very fortunate.
I am very fortunate to have a very tight group of friends that I've had for many years, 20, 30 years now. And that has been a core support system and stability for me through all of this stuff I've been through in my life. And my kids are the same way. They are in school now, they were home-schooled for a long time because I wanted to be with them but now they want to go to school, so we had to make an adjustment and we are in the middle of that.
How are they adjusting?
Max came home the other day and said, "Everybody is coming up to me in my new school and asking me if you are my mum." And I said, "Okay. What did you say?" He was like, "I didn't say anything, I don't know what to say." I said, "Tell them I am your mum. Say, 'My mum is Jennifer Lopez and she is just like any other mum.'" Don't let their weirdness be your weirdness.
Inspired by a viral New York Magazine article, Hustlers follows a crew of savvy former strip club employees who band together to turn the tables on their Wall St clients. In cinemas from October 10.