How Jennifer Lopez rose to the status of an Elizabeth Taylor icon –

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2020 was supposed to be the year of Jennifer Lopez. Everyone thought she was in contention for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress after playing con artist stripper Ramona Vega in Lauren Scafaria’s film. Hustlers, and she headlined a Super Bowl halftime show with Shakira a month before the world shut down. The latter is the subject of a new Netflix documentary. Break which aired earlier this month, in what was already a stellar year for the triple threat superstar, from her re-engagement to Ben Affleck to February Marry meback in shape for our rom-com queen.

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Break ostensibly named after the Super Bowl halftime show, but it also marks the middle of Lopez’s long career: she turned 50 in 2019, 29 years after her breakout TV role, and 2020 made it clear her second act is just getting started . off. AT BreakLopez talks about how she was constantly underestimated as an actress and how Hustlersshe finally gained recognition as a serious artist and not a tabloid feeder. This is a moment of reckoning for the superstar in the Netflix documentary, and it’s an opportunity for us to reckon with our treatment of her as well. In Act 2, Lopez didn’t just reclaim Ben Affleck, she reclaimed the legacy of a modern-day Elizabeth Taylor.

There is nothing new in the comparison itself. In the early 2000s, the tabloids were particularly fond of comparing Lopez’s personal life (if not her acting skills) to the purple-eyed Glamazon, notorious for her eight marriages, two of which were to actor Richard Burton. During those years, Lopez had several high-profile relationships and back-to-back marriages: she married Ojani Noah in 1997, Chris Judd in 2001 and Marc Anthony in 2004, as well as her (first) engagement to Affleck in 2002.

Lopez’s films have a recurring theme that also reflects the work of Elizabeth Taylor: no matter how enigmatic the protagonist she opposes, the film ends up acting as a vehicle only for Lopez and Lopez. J. Lo has starred in romantic comedies alongside a range of leading white Hollywood men, including Matthew McConaughey (The Wedding Planner), Ralph Fiennes (Maid in Manhattan), Richard Gere (Shall we dance?), Mikhail Vartan (monster in law), Alex O’Loughlin (Withdrawal plan) and Milo Ventimiglia (Second act) – all of them, opposite Lopez, become interchangeable (we offer a small exception for George Clooney in Out of sight). Likewise, Taylor shared the screen with leading men such as Spencer Tracy, Montgomery Clift and Richard Burton. And while all the actors on this list, in their own right and in many other films, are at the top of their game, it’s Elizabeth Taylor and Jennifer Lopez whose faces you’ll remember when you remember their classic films.

So: the ground for comparisons between Lopez and Taylor has long been set, as critics have been happy to write off starlets who often star in films. But Taylor has enjoyed a resurgence in cultural icon status in later life, and Lopez is now on her way to enjoying the same.

As Lopez moves into the second half of his career, it’s the culmination of a long journey to shift the focus to his own talents and take his mind off his relationships. Her fame faded a bit after the tabloid fever of the 2010s, when she focused on building her perfume empire, Las Vegas residencies, and judging. american idol like many of her pop stars, she is also raising her twins, Maximilian and Emme, with her third husband, Anthony.

Then, “at 42, recently divorced and a single mother, I no longer knew what my worth was,” she says in Break. “I did american idoland that was good for me at the time. People could see me for who I am.”

She returned with a vengeance in 2019 with her aforementioned role in Hustlers, for which she received 31 Best Supporting Actress nominations from all major awards except the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. And now, 20 years after becoming a household name thanks to her high-profile relationships and soap novels, J. Lo is more respected and more accessible than ever, returning to our living rooms with the Super Bowl. Break, Marry me, and more.

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Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra
©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection.

AT BreakLopez explains how the fact that she wasn’t taken seriously as an actress and artist has kept her from proving her haters wrong throughout her career. Similarly, Elizabeth Taylor was mostly considered eye candy during her time in Hollywood, with her personal life overshadowing her own prolific career. Later roles in Cat on a hot roof as well as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? will receive recognition – after she has already worked in business for 15-20 years, as well as the role of Lopez in Hustlers. Her infamous reputation for being married eight times may still come to mind in the first place when it comes to Elizabeth Taylor, but she also has a reputation for being underrated, and the cultural constancy of a star with a capital A – and that’s exactly what J.Lo was. also strengthened in recent years.

So far, everything is going exceptionally well. J. Lo was back at the top of the A list, a shift that we can partly explain by how we revisited 2000s tabloid culture in subsequent decades and reflected on how women in particular were treated unfairly by the media. . We’re now keen to give credit to Lopez (and Britney Spears and Monica Lewinsky and more), just as Taylor later saw the resurgence of interest in her in earnest. And Lopez seems to have a clear idea of ​​what’s important to her as she redefines herself decades after she first stepped into the spotlight.

I’ve always felt that J. Lo exudes the maternal, feminine, girlish energy of a girl, so it’s no surprise that the films in which she and her fellow cast members shine the most are about female relationships rather than heterosexual romantic relationships like Hustlers, monster in lawas well as Second act. While one of these things is unlike the others, the bright spots of the last two are Lopez’s chemistry with the titular mother-in-law, played by Jane Fonda, and her long-lost biological daughter, played by Vanessa Hudgens, in Second act. In the second act of real life, Lopez will also pay more attention to these important female relationships.

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Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez in Monster in Law
© New Line Cinema/Courtesy Everett Collection.

In the heart Break Lopez’s Super Bowl performance with Shakira, and although some mistakenly believed that Lopez was expressing disdain about sharing a halftime performance with a Colombian singer, the camaraderie shown between the two Latin American superstars both backstage and on the field was nothing short of inspiring. Women’s power was central to Lopez’s vision of performance, from a dance troupe of young girls to a female symbol in the field of quintessential American masculinity.

Perhaps that is why the men from J. Lo’s life so rarely appeared in Break. Aside from Affleck’s brief comment, none of Lopez’s exes are involved in the documentary – neither Marc Anthony, the father of her famous children, nor Alex Rodriguez, to whom Lopez was engaged during filming. Like Elizabeth Taylor, Lopez spent too long sharing attention with her significant other, taking too long answering questions solely about her relationship. At a time when the media seems to be self-aware and interested in leaving some of their worst tendencies behind, J.Lo makes it clear where she’d like to focus. Like Elizabeth Taylor, Lopez may have her choice of men, but she doesn’t need a man to rule by her side. In the second act, J. Lo keeps himself in the spotlight.

Before you leave, click here to see actresses over 50 who are now more successful than ever.
Jennifer Lopez, Sandra Bullock

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