Before there was Tommy and Molly-Mae, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck were the original IT couple. And they’re back, big time. Affectionally known as ‘Bennifer‘, this pair’s ever-evolving flirtation and magnetic chemistry has captivated us for literally 20 years. And guess what? We’re still absolutely obsessed.
We felt it was only right to take a look down memory lane to see all the key moments in Bennifer’s relationship, from meeting on the set of a doomed comedy film, to taking Venice Film Festival by storm. Buckle up pop-culture fans, this is required reading.
December 2001: J.Lo and Ben Affleck start filming Gigli
The pair starred in this comedy about an American mobster (played by Ben) who falls in love with a hustler (played by J.Lo). On release, the film was universally panned by critics and has been dubbed one of the worst films of all time. At least we can thank it for bringing #Bennifer together?
While sparks obviously flew between the actors, J.Lo was married to her second husband Cris Judd at this point (she was previously married to Ojani Noa).
April 2002: Ben pays for an advert in The Hollywood Reporter to publicly support J.Lo.
He wrote, “You have shown kindness, dedication, diligence, humility, graciousness of spirit, beauty in courage, great empathy, astonishing talent, real poise and true grace…It has been nothing but an honor and a pleasure to work with you. I only wish I were lucky enough to be in all your movies.” He signed the advert, “With love, respect and gratitude, Ben Affleck.” Talk about PDA?!
Ben later explained the rationale behind this gesture to Vanity Fair, saying that J.Lo, “had developed this reputation as a diva and a pain in the ass,” and he wanted to “counteract” that narrative. He continued,
“She works harder than anybody I’ve ever seen. I thought I was busy with movies and television and writing; I felt pretty maxed out until I met her. She was doing all that and recording albums on weekends!”
July 2002: J.Lo files for divorce from Cris Judd
In a statement (via People), said, “Jennifer Lopez and Cris Judd have announced they have resolved all issues arising out of their marriage. The resolution was extremely amicable […] The two will remain friends.”
In his interview with Vanity Fair, Ben reiterates that he and Jen weren’t romantically involved while she was married. He said, “We would hang out, but I talked about me all the time […] I was vaguely aware she had something going on, but I was too busy running off my mouth. It changed when she told me she was getting separated. At that point, it became a possibility; doors were opened.”
November 2002: Ben stars as J.Lo’s love interest in her hit single ‘Jenny from the Block’
The couple poke fun at the media interest surrounding their relationship, partying on a yacht (more on that later) while reading about themselves in the tabloids. On that day, Bennifer was born.
November 2002: J.Lo releases her third album, featuring a song called ‘Dear Ben’
If you haven’t heard this banger, here’s a little taste of the lyrics: “I love you, you’re perfect. A manifestation of my dreams. You make my body feel about a million different things.”
November 2002: Ben and Jen are engaged!
It’s all happening so fast! The pair confirm their engagement in an interview with Diane Sawyers, revealing Ben’s “traditional” proposal and J.Lo’s legendary six-carat pink diamond engagement ring from Harry Winston, which one lucky showbiz journalist was fortunate enough to try on…
In the interview, J.Lo recalled the proposal scene, saying, “It’s just a blanket, a quilt of rose petals, all over the whole entire house […] So many candles, and vases, bouquets. And my song ‘Glad’ was playing … I walk in and I was just overwhelmed. I wasn’t expecting it, and I was just like ‘Oh my God.”
After Ben read her a letter of all the reasons he loved her, J.Lo said, “I had cried a lot over sadness over the years. And for the first time in my life, I cried incredible purging tears of happiness. It was the most cleansing feeling and the most wonderful feeling I had ever had.”
December 2002: The pair film their second movie together, Jersey Girl
J.Lo played Ben’s onscreen wife who (spoiler alert) died in pretty much the first five minutes of the film. Jersey Girl also bombed at the box office, with Ben and Jen being nominated for ‘Worst Actor’ and ‘Worst Supporting Actress’ respectively at the Razzie Awards in 2004. Bit harsh?
February 2003: The couple hits the red carpet for the premiere of Ben’s film Daredevil
Looking every inch Hollywood’s favourite couple, Ben and J.Lo were as loved-up as ever. Incidentally, Ben also posed for a few pics with his Daredevil co-star and future wife (not to mention mother to their three children) Jennifer Garner.
March 2003: Ben calls J.Lo a “misunderstood woman”
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Ben discusses his relationship with J.Lo, saying, “”Jennifer is a really wonderful, fabulous woman, smart and interesting. Spending time with her makes me a better person and a happier person. She impresses me every day. It feels better to me to be with her than without her.
“Jen and I want to get married for the reason everyone else does: we fell in love. I’m in love; I want to have a family; and she’s the only person I’ve ever met who made me entertain the thought of doing that.” He then commented on the public frenzy surrounding their relationship, attributing it to race and class factors: “I think it has to do with race and class, the fact that I’m white and she’s Puerto Rican,” he said. “That’s what’s underneath, although nobody says it, because it’s not politically correct.”
Ben also said that J.Lo was “characterized as oversexed,” saying, “Jen has had fewer boyfriends than your average high-school junior. In the physical sense, she’s extremely chaste. She’s had a much simpler, more easily explainable, more clean romantic history than I have. She can tell the whole story in 15 minutes, whereas I always preface the whole story with ‘It was complicated …’ She’s a deeply misunderstood woman, in my opinion.”
July 2003: The couple get candid about how they met
In an interview with Pat O’Brien, J.Lo recalled, “We met at a couple of the parties. You know, we barely paid any attention to each other at all.” She then opened up about their time as co-stars on the set of Gigli, saying, “We talked a lot and that’s the thing… There was no kind of idea that we would be together in the future, so it was one of those things where you kind of like say too much. It felt like we had good chemistry. He likes to improv. I could improv back. He’s the best person to improv in the whole entire business, he’s so funny.
J.Lo also confirmed that she’d be taking Ben’s last name but would still use Lopez professionally.
August 2003: J.Lo and Ben’s film is released…and flops
The film garnered heightened media attention due to J.Lo and Ben’s engagement, which made it all the more awkward when it flopped. According to E!, in 2017 J.Lo described this as her “lowest point.” She said, “”It was a very badly reviewed film. I was in a high-profile relationship at the time that fell apart in a really bad way, and so the kind of mix of those two things and the tabloid press had just come into existence at the time, so I was like a poster child for that moment.”
September 2003: Ben and Jen postpone their wedding due to media attention
According to People, the wedding was supposed to take place in Santa Barbara before it was pushed back. The couple released a statement, saying, “Due to the excessive media attention surrounding our wedding, we have decided to postpone the date. When we found ourselves seriously contemplating hiring three separate ‘decoy brides’ at three different locations, we realized that something was awry.
“We began to feel that the spirit of what should have been the happiest day of our lives could be compromised. We felt what should have been a joyful and sacred day could be spoiled for us, our families and our friends.”
January 2004: Bennifer is no more
Ben and J.Lo officially call it quits. One of J.Lo’s representatives releases a statement saying, “Jennifer Lopez has ended her engagement to Ben Affleck. At this difficult time, we ask that you respect her privacy.”
June 2004: J.Lo marries Marc Anthony
J.Lo had previously dated the singer in the 1990s and their wedding came as a shock to many. The pair welcomed twins, Maximilian David and Emme Maribel, in 2008. They announced their separation in July 2011, and the divorce was finalised in June 2014. Their statement read, “This was a very difficult decision. We have come to an amicable conclusion on all matters. It is a painful time for all involved and we appreciate the respect of our privacy at this time.”
June 2005: Ben Affleck marries Jennifer Garner
A year after his former fiancée weds, Ben also ties the knot with his previous co-star, Jennifer Garner. The pair are married for a decade, in which time they have three children: Violet, Seraphina, and Samuel. They announce their split in 2015, saying, “After much thought and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to divorce. We go forward with love and friendship for one another and a commitment to co-parenting our children whose privacy we ask to be respected during this difficult time.”
May 2010: J.Lo opens up about how her relationship with Ben suffered due to the media
During her appearance on the Graham Norton Show, J.Lo says, “I love Ben, he’s a great guy, but it was a lot for both of us to be under that type of siege for two years straight. We were on the cover of every magazine, every week, it was just a weird thing.” She continued, “Our relationship, I think, did suffer because of that. That’s not the only reason. I would never blame the media for anything, but I think it definitely played a part in the dynamic of our relationship.”
November 2014: J.Lo says Marc Anthony rescued her after split from Ben
Per Page Six, J.Lo recalled, “Ben and I split up at the moment when I thought we were committing to each other forever, it was my first real heartbreak, it felt like my heart had been torn out of my chest.
“My way of anesthetizing the pain was different. I sought out comfort in another person, tried to find someone who could make me feel loved and wanted in my loneliest hour […] Marc came back into my life three days after I should have been at the altar saying ‘I do’ to another man.
“Thinking back, maybe deep down I knew that this was a Band-Aid on the cut, that my wound hadn’t been stitched or healed,” she added. “But I pushed all that to the back of my mind. Because life takes unpredictable twists and turns, right? And you’ve just got to go with what you feel is best in the moment.”
January 2019: J.Lo says tabloids contributed to her and Ben’s split
In her MTV documentary The Ride, J.Lo said, “When the tabloids were out and we were being hounded by paparazzi constantly, it was a really hard time. I remember being on the cover of those tabloids for two years straight and it was brutal.
“I think it absolutely contributed to the demise of our relationship and the love that we had. There was so much judgment and pressure and scrutiny and opinions and it was just a really, really hard thing to deal with.”
February 2020: Reconciliation is in sight as Ben says J.Lo should’ve been nominated for an Oscar for her role in Hustlers
According to Brooks Barnes, Ben said the following during his interview with The New York Times: “She should have been nominated. She’s the real thing. I keep in touch periodically with her and have a lot of respect for her. How awesome is it that she had her biggest hit movie at 50? That’s f*cking baller.”
January 2021: Ben speaks up about the racism J.Lo endured during their relationship
Speaking on The Hollywood Reporter’s “Awards Chatter” podcast, Ben said, “People were so f-cking mean about her — sexist, racist […] Ugly, vicious sh*t was written about her in ways that if you wrote it now you would literally be fired for saying those things you said.”
January 2021: Ben and Ana de Armas split up after dating during lockdown
E! News reported that the pair had split after a year of dating. Discussing the break-up, a source reportedly said, “”Both of them have completely full lives in a good way. There will always be that love.”
April 2021: J.Lo and Alex Rodriguez split up after four years together
The pair released a joint statement to the Today Show, saying, “We have realized we are better as friends and look forward to remaining so. We will continue to work together and support each other on our shared businesses and projects. We wish the best for each other and one another’s children. Out of respect for them, the only other comment we have to say is thank you to everyone who has sent kind words and support.”
May 2021: Sources report that Ben are Jen are hanging out again
A source told People, “They have a great time hanging out. It’s been years since they caught up properly. They have lots to talk about,” adding, “They plan on hanging out again.”
May 2021: Ben visits J.Lo at her Miami home
A source told E! News, “Ben took a red eye to Miami and went straight to J.Lo’s new house in the early morning hours. She looked very happy to see him and they walked around the property together so she could show him around […] She had a big smile on her face and was twirling in a loose summer dress. They spent the day inside together but came out a few times for fresh air and to admire the water view.”
A source later told US Weekly, “Jen and Ben are both very happy with each [other] and are excited to see where the relationship goes. They are full-on dating and very happy together.” Eeeek.
June 2021: It’s happening! Ben and Jen are photographed with their arms around each other in California
A couple of days later, Ben was spotted leaving J.Lo’s house with a knowing grin, which obviously spawned a thousand memes.
June 2021: Photos emerge of Ben and J.Lo kissing
A video obtained by Page Six shows the reunited couple kissing over dinner.
July 2021: J.Lo and Ben go Insta-official
The singer shared a series of photos of herself modelling a swimsuit, and in the third picture Ben joined her for a smooch. File this under things we LOVE to see.
July 2021: Ben and J.Lo may be moving in together
According to Entertainment Tonight, close friends of the pair said that they “wouldn’t be surprised” if they “move in together and ultimately end up together.”
“They’re spending all of their free time together and making each other a priority. J.Lo falls hard and has certainly done the same with Ben again this time around. Ben is a guy’s guy and does his own thing, which J.Lo loves. He has his own life and is famous in a different way than she is and is not trying to compete with her by any means. They just support and love each other.”
July 2021: Bennifer recreate scene from Jenny from the Block music video while reclining on a yacht
In a nostalgic moment, Ben could be seen with his hand resting on J.Lo’s bum, just like *that* scene in the Jenny from the Block music video. Fans begin to speculate that the pair are recreating iconic moments from the video to celebrate it’s 20th (!) anniversary.
J.Lo is later spotted wearing a necklace that reads, ‘BEN’, inspiring us all to invest in some namesake jewellery.
August 2021: Ben is spotted browsing engagement rings
Photos obtained by Page Six appear to show Ben browsing engagement rings at Tiffany’s in California with his son and mother. Can he top that pink diamond ring from the first time around?
September 2021: Bennifer’s power couple status is restored as they cruise to Venice Film Festival
In something straight out of a James Bond film, J.Lo and Ben rock up to Venice Film Festival in a water taxi, looking utterly stunning. Couple goals is an understatement.
Keeping up with this pair may be exhausting, but we’re still eagerly awaiting the latest update!