Jennifer Lopez has it all: adorable children, an oh-so-cute boyfriend, several highly rated television shows to her credit, a profitable perfume line, successful films and a handful of best-selling albums. But the triple-threat diva confesses she missed acting, making “Parker” her first film since her departure from “American Idol.”
“To be honest, I had been doing music, releasing two albums,” Lopez told NBC Latino during a press call with reporters. “And when I got the chance to do this movie between two seasons of ‘Idol,’ I realized how much I really missed acting; I hadn’t done enough of it over the past few years.”
For Lopez, who said she was drawn to “Parker” because of its “great script,” the fun of being back on set made her realize that she was ready to dive back into film.
“When they offered me a third season of ‘Idol,’ I just had to say no,” confessed Lopez. “I made the decision that I was going to go back on tour and after that focus on film for the next few years. It’s just the perfect time in my life with the things that I’ve lived and the things I’ve experienced. I have so much to offer as an actor at this point in my life. I’m going to make music and I’m going to focus on my artistry.”
In “Parker” – which opens in theaters nationwide this Friday – Lopez plays the character of Leslie Rodgers, a down-on-her-luck real estate agent who teams up with Parker (played by hunky “The Transporter” star Jason Statham) to score the heist of a lifetime. An action thriller of the sort that made Lopez a star among mainstream audiences, in “Parker” – much like 1998’s “Out of Sight” and 2002’s “Enough” – she plays a woman unafraid to make her own way (and kick some butt if needed).
“We’re both human beings who’ve gone through hard and difficult times,” said the 43-year-old of the similarities between herself and her character. “At this particular time, she’s recently divorced, a little desperate. When I was filming this role, I had similar feelings. I had recently decided to divorce and it was hard to get out of bed and go to the set every day. I knew what those feelings were, to feel your world was falling apart.”
Lopez’s ability to showcase those feelings – raw, emotional and heart-felt – compelled “Parker” director Taylor Hackford to offer the “Dance Again” singer the role of Leslie.
“He said, ‘I’ve been watching you on ‘American Idol’ and while I love that girl that’s not the girl I want,’” recalled Lopez. “He told me that he had seen how I never give up, and that’s what he needed for this character.”
And while Lopez may have been able to harness her grief over the end of her seven-year-long marriage to Puerto Rican star Marc Anthony into her “Parker” performance, she brought something else to the film – her world-famous derriere, which the svelte songstress shows off in one scantily-dressed scene.
“Doing scenes like [this] one are so nerve-wracking,” laughed Lopez, who confessed to “eating well and working out a lot” before filming the scene. “You have to get mentally ready because it’s a vulnerable state, being in front of a crew having to do a scene like that. My heart beats getting ready for it, but you know at the end of the day it’s part of the job.”
That being said, don’t count on Lopez baring all in a movie any time soon.
“I wouldn’t do a role with an excessive amount of nudity because I wouldn’t feel comfortable,” said Lopez. “But I do suck it up and get it done!”
And the question just begged to be asked: is Lopez as flirty as her on-screen character – who wears a decidedly un J.Lo-like wardrobe of Palm Beach-style summer suits in pastel colors – when it comes to approaching men?
“I’m not as much of a flirt,” laughed Lopez, who has been with boyfriend Beau “Casper” Smart for more than one year. “I’m more straight-forward. If I like someone, they know it. I’m not someone who will flirt with a bunch of people just because. It’s just not my style.”
All talk of romance aside, Lopez hopes that “Parker” will earn praise among her fans, who will find it plot as captivating as she does.
“I always want my fans to be happy with what I do,” said Lopez in response to whether she considers her fans when picking new projects. “But I don’t want choose my projects based on what I think will please them. I choose projects that are I can excel in and that are real, not stuff that’s fake or forced.”
And that includes both romantic comedies and action films, said the New York City native.
“I don’t consider genre so much as having a great script, great director and great actors to play off of,” says Lopez, whose last film was “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”
“Doing an intense drama scene can be as much fun as a romantic comedy. I enjoy all of it!”