Gigli is not the brightest spot of Ben Affleck’s career, but the actor is nevertheless thankful for its existence. Released in theaters in 2003, the film was written and directed by Martin Brest. It stars Affleck as a low-level mobster ordered to kidnap a federal prosecutor’s brother while a free-spirited gangster, played by Jennifer Lopez, accompanies him to assist with the kidnapping. As a romantic crime drama, plans go awry when Gigli’s feelings get involved.
In a new chat with Matt Damon for Entertainment Weekly, Affleck opened up at length about his body of work. He took some time to touch on Gigli, a film that still gets Affleck ridiculed to this day. As Affleck explains, it’s odd to him that so many people have things to say about Gigli when it seems like so few of them had actually seen the film. That’s not to say it’s a great movie necessarily, as Affleck agrees that it “doesn’t work,” but he feels that the tabloids and media attention over J. Lo’s involvement brought much more attention to the ill-fated release.
“The truth about that movie and what it taught me was how much everything around a movie sort of dictates the way people see it. But for being a movie that’s such a famous bomb and a disaster, very few people actually saw the movie. It doesn’t work, by the way. It’s a sort of horse’s head in a cow’s body. And the studio at the time, because I had begun having this relationship with Jennifer Lopez, which was selling a lot of magazines and appeared to generate a lot of enthusiasm, they just predictably latched onto, ‘They want a romantic comedy. They want the two of them together. More of that!’ And it was just like that SNL sketch.”
Affleck says that signing up for the film seemed like an easy choice, as he was a big fan of Brest’s previous work. He also noted how there’s still “wonderful stuff” in there, even if the movie isn’t perfect. Affleck also gives a lot of credit to Brest and points out that he’s had several movies bomb harder than Gigli, so the failures of that film is not reflective of the filmmakers. It was just ultimately a movie that didn’t work. Unfortunately, its negative reception also hit Affleck a bit hard at the time.
“It’s just that it became a story in and of itself. The funny name, the Jennifer Lopez romance and overexposure of that, it was kind of a perfect storm. And I remember talking to Marty the Friday it came out and I was like it’s just spectacular, it’s a tsunami, it couldn’t be worse. This is as bad as it gets… I can see now how people looked at me and thought of this person as some callow frat guy who’s cavalier, or has too much. It engendered a lot of negative feelings in people about me. There’s that aspect of people that I got to see that was sad and hard, it was depressing and really made me question things and feel disappointed and have a lot of self-doubt.”
Ben Affleck Sees the Bright Side of the Box Office Bomb
The good news is Affleck has had a lot of time to think about the film and he’s more fond of Gigli these days. He has realized how that fiasco led to an interest in trying directing, a new avenue that has brought Affleck great success. On a personal level, Affleck also appreciates that he was able to meet J. Lo through working on the film. The two have just recently rekindled their romance, a relationship that probably wouldn’t have happened at all if not for Gigli.
“If the reaction to Gigli hadn’t happened, I probably wouldn’t have ultimately decided, ‘I don’t really have any other avenue but to direct movies,’ which has turned out to be the real love of my professional life. So in those ways, it’s a gift. And I did get to meet Jennifer, the relationship with whom has been really meaningful to me in my life.”
If you want to watch Gigli, even if to satisfy your own curiosity to see if it’s as bad as some say, you can find the film streaming on HBO Max.