Jennifer Lopez remembers a director asking her to 'take my top off': 'I stood up for myself'

Jennifer Lopez may be getting ready for her Super Bowl halftime performance, but the entertainer also has an awards season campaign to manage. The Hustlers star joined Renée Zellweger, Laura Dern, Lupita Nyong'o, Awkwafina and Scarlett Johansson for The Hollywood Reporter's annual actress roundtable where the women discussed how #MeToo and Time's Up impacted the entertainment industry.

"I hear the conversations and I've been in professional partnerships with men who make different choices now, even if it's just to be clear about what their intentions are," Zellweger exclaimed.

2019 Governors Awards - Arrivals - Los Angeles, California, U.S., October 27, 2019 - Jennifer Lopez. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
2019 Governors Awards - Arrivals - Los Angeles, California, U.S., October 27, 2019 - Jennifer Lopez. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

"They're definitely more careful now," Lopez added.

"Yeah, they keep the door open. Or I had one gentleman say, 'I don't meet with women alone. I always make sure that there's somebody else in here because I don't want anything to be misconstrued or misunderstood and I want her to be comfortable,'" Zellweger continued. "So you see that there are different choices being made."

"We've stood up and said, 'Hey, we don't want this to be going on and it's been going on a long time and it's enough,'" noted Lopez. "On a more positive note, we have movies like Hustlers and Little Women and all these other movies where there's women at the forefront, and we're producing and we're directing, we're writing it, we're editing it."

Lopez recalled an inappropriate encounter with a director years ago, piquing the interest of Johansson.

"A director at a fitting asked me to take my top off," Lopez recalled.

"To see what?" Johansson chimed in.

"Because I was supposed to do nudity in the movie," Lopez continued.

"Oh, they wanted to see your breasts?" Johansson asked.

"He wanted to see my boobs," Lopez affirmed. "And I was like, 'We're not on set.'"

"That is crazy," Johansson noted.

"Well, he was crazy. And …" Lopez continued.

"Oh my God, who was it?! I want to know," Johansson interjected, but Lopez wouldn't say a name.

"And I said no, I stood up for myself. But it was so funny because I remember being so panicked in the moment. And by the way, there was a costume designer in the room with me," Lopez added. "So there was another woman in the room and he says this and I said no. Luckily a little bit of the Bronx came out, and I was like, 'I don't have to show you my — No. On the set, you see them.'"

"Thankfully you were like that, because not everybody would feel that way," Johansson added.

"That's the thing, because if you give in, in that moment, all of a sudden that person is off and running, thinking they can do whatever they want," Lopez continued. "And because I put up a little boundary right there and said no, he laid off and then later on apologized. But the minute he walked out of the room the costume designer was like, 'I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry that just happened.'"

Johansson added, "I feel like that could still happen. I don't think we're far away from that at all. I was talking to some of our crew from the last film that I did, about inappropriate behavior in general, and they were talking about a particular DP that was doing all kinds of crazy stuff, shooting up skirts, and our first AD had to go over to the actress and say, 'Hey, just so you know, maybe you want to check and see, because I think the camera angle is going to maybe not be something that you're comfortable with.' She had no idea."

"The difference now, though, is that because of the conversations that are happening in public, it's easier to tell when something is inappropriate," Nyong'o chimed in.

Lopez, Dern and Zellweger surprised some of their peers when they said it was "normal" to meet with casting directors or hold auditions in hotel rooms.

"I listen to the next generation, saying, 'People used to have auditions in hotel rooms?' I'm like, 'Yeah, every single time, waiting in the lobby of a hotel and the director is waiting for you in the room to have a chemistry read,'" Dern recalled.

"And sometimes it was not inappropriate at all. It was totally professional. So it's not like you can put everybody in that category," Lopez clarified.

"No, it just kind of afforded an opportunity to be inappropriate if you were so inclined," added Zellweger.

Read more of the actress’s interview with THR here.

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