These days, Jennifer Lopez is no diva. Wearing a thigh-skimming black bubble dress, the 38-year-old singer-actress arrived earlier than expected at The Regency Hotel in NYC on July 26 to do interviews for her film El Cantante, which stars Marc Anthony, her husband of three years, as salsa legend Hector Lavoe. She produced the biopic and plays his long-suffering wife Pucci.’You guys are packed in here like sardines,’ she laughed to the throng of reporters crowded into the room.The hotel is a quiet respite from her real world. ‘The paparazzi were crazy,’ costar Manny Perez says. ‘We’re shooting and there’s twenty paparazzi across the way shooting with big lenses. I’m like ëoh my God, who are these people?’ Everywhere we went, it was the same thing. You saw paparazzi all the time.’In this interview, the Bronx-born bombshell talks about life with her husband, staying in shape, her role in the music industry and how El Cantante changed her perspective.THERE’S A PROHIBITION ON WORKING WITH DOGS, ANIMALS AND SPOUSES. ANY TREPIDATION ABOUT WORKING WITH YOUR SPOUSE?No, because I got the script five-and-a-half years ago and we were not together at that time. I knew that he was the guy to play the role, so I called him a month later, and I asked him if he wanted to attach himself to this. At that time, I didn’t even know I was going to play Pucci to tell you the truth. But I did know that I wanted it to be the first thing I produced. So I called him as the producer of the film, and said ëdo you want to do this?’ and he said ëyes, of course, this guy’s my idol.’ I’m like OK?YOU GUYS ACTUALLY HAVE CHEMISTRY TOGETHER, WHICH IS WEIRD FOR MARRIED COUPLES?We met working. That’s what everybody forgets. The first time we met we were doing a song together, and it worked. It was on my first album. We have [chemistry] naturally, luckily. We always planned to do this film together, even when we weren’t together.THE FIGHTS WERE EPIC ? HAVE YOU EVER HAD ONE OF THOSE WITH YOUR HUSBAND?Ha ha! I’ll tell you a funny story. While we were shooting one of the scenes ? actually when she comes home and she sees that he’s been getting high in the house and the son is there ? we were shooting that scene and she starts arguing. I start going after him. Now, obviously, a lot of stuff we did was improvised. They were like ëyou two go at it.’ I decided that I was going to literally go after Marc in one scene. I did it the first take, and I didn’t really go after him, and then in the second take, I decided I was just going to push him and I wanted to get him out of the house. Just get out! Because he wanted to leave. I pushed him. He’s not expecting it or anything and he starts struggling. He grabs my arm, and I’m like ëlet go! Let go of my arm right now!’ and we start getting into it. All of a sudden he’s like ëJennifer!’ I’m calling him Hector, he’s calling me Jennifer, and suddenly the whole set just breaks up because it was so tense. They were like ëdo you guys get into fights like this at home?’ No, not like this. YOUR FIGURE LOOKS FANTASTIC. WHAT’S YOUR SECRET?I don’t have a secret. Just like anybody else ? try not to eat too much. I work out. I go through my phases. When I get a little heavy, I start working out more. When I feel skinny, I don’t work out at all.ARE THERE DAYS WHEN YOU DON’T FEEL MOTIVATED?Yes. Totally.YOU AND MARC ARE TOURING TOGETHER? My English album is coming out in a couple weeks, and he has the soundtrack. Since we’ve been married the past three years, I’ve been on tour with him twice. He always goes out with another artist or two, and this year, I think they thought ëmaybe because she has an album coming out, we’ll offer it to her.’ I was like ëOK.’ DO YOU AND MARC TALK ABOUT DOING ANOTHER PROJECT TOGETHER IN THE FUTURE?No. We talk about doing the tour together. Other than that, no. The things that we do happen naturally. They’re not things we plan out. Who knows. Nothing right now.HOW HAS YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO THE MUSIC INDUSTRY CHANGED? It has changed, but when you make music and you love making music, it’s not like you’re going to stop. As challenging as it is right now — the record companies and the artists are trying to figure out where we all fit in with the Internet and the downloading and all this crazy business stuff ? at the end of the day we just want to make songs. I love making English music and Spanish music. When he feels like making records, he’s going to make records.WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT YOUR OWN LIFE BY PLAYING PUCCI?I probably can take a lot more than I think. She could deal with all that ? surely I can deal with the stuff that I have to deal with.HOW DID YOU PREPARE TO PLAY PUCCI?I had eleven CDs of the interviews that she did for the first script that was written. I got to listen to her talk and hear firsthand accounts of what happened. Her voice sounded like she had really lived such a tumultuous life in a sense. She had to be a tough lady to be in this life. She would go into these crack houses, and she would pull him out. She’d go in there with a gun. This is stuff we didn’t put in the movie because we didn’t think people would believe it. But it was true. These are things that were a part of her life. I think, to be that type of person, to love somebody, to stay with them, to struggle with them, to not be perfect yourself — that’s what was so interesting. It was very different from my own life.WHAT WAS HECTOR’S DOWNFALL?The drugs. It’s hard as with any iconic artist ? there’s a bit of mystery that surrounds them. I think we tried to understand what it could be. Losing his mother at such a young age, his father disowning him, the brother dying, the son dying. The tumultuous relationship. The enabling that was around. His penchant for drugs. At the end of the day, we will never, ever know. One of the scenes I love in the movie is when he’s singing El Cantante ? which is the song saying ëI’m a singer, you guys don’t really care about what I feel or what pain I’m going through ? it’s just we’re paying our money; sing.’ That’s what the song was about ? that was his life.WHAT DO YOU WANT AMERICAN AUDIENCES TO TAKE AWAY FROM EL CANTANTE?To me, one of the greatest joys of this movie is people watching it who don’t know anything about him and wanting to know all of his music when it’s done. That’s happened ten times to ten different people I’ve shown the movie to ? who don’t speak Spanish at all. People I respect, whose opinion I just wanted to know. First of all, they’re blown away by the life that he lived, but then his music. That’s the exciting part to me ? to be able to expose him to a wider audience than maybe the salsaphiles.HOW HAS THIS CHANGED YOUR CAREER PATH?The next thing we have coming out is called Bordertown, which we helped produce, which is about the murders in Juarez. After that, we’re going to produce a film called Love And Other Possible Pursuits. I definitely am drawn to things I feel are important and relevant to say.El Cantante opens August 3.By Valerie NomePhoto:

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