As part of this year’s installment of The Hollywood Reporter‘s Drama Actress Roundtable, Lopez, 50, recalled a situation prior to filming a movie role that required nudity, when the director asked her to take her top off during a costume fitting.
“He wanted to see my boobs. And I was like, ‘We’re not on set,'” Lopez said, calling the unnamed man “crazy.” “I said no, I stood up for myself. But it was so funny because I remember being so panicked in the moment.”
Lopez, who will co-headline the upcoming Super Bowl halftime show along with Shakira, said a female costume designer was also in the room when the inappropriate request was made, giving her a bit more confidence to deny and stand her ground.
“So there was another woman in the room and he says this and I said no,” she said. “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.'”
Scarlett Johansson, one of the other actresses included in the THR roundtable — along with Laura Dern (Little Women), Renée Zellweger (Judy) Lupita Nyong’o (Us) and Awkwafina (The Farewell) — said situations like the one Lopez encountered “could still happen” today.
“Thankfully you were like that, because not everybody would feel that way,” the Marriage Story actress, 34, said.
“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 said. “And because I put up a little boundary right there and said no, he laid off and then later on apologized.”
She added: “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.'”
Nyong’o, 36, said victims of sexual harassment are now becoming more empowered to speak up.
“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 said. “… Because in that moment, if the costume designer had said something, it could’ve changed. If she had supported you in some way, had spoken up, it would have changed the dynamic.”
She continued: “So now we are programming the younger generation to know what’s okay and what’s not. To know that it’s not okay to be in a costume fitting and for a man to ask that of you. Even though those things might happen, our defense would be sharper in those moments.”
Lopez described a much more professional experience on the set of her latest movie, Hustlers, which required many of its actors and extras to often be nude during production.
“On Hustlers, we had a comfort coach. It was basically somebody who understood that world and said, ‘These things are okay,’ and, ‘These things are not okay,'” she said. “… And made everybody on the set comfortable with what they were doing, because we had a lot of women who were half-dressed or naked, topless.”
Even with the added buffer of an expert on set keeping filming professional, Lopez said when it came time to shoot her opening solo dance routine, she felt exposed and “so terrified.”
“Then when I was there and I had the dental floss on, I’m out there in a way I’ve never been,” she said. “… I have my robe on and there’s 300 extras, all men. I think that was putting myself out there, in a way, deeper than I had ever done physically and emotionally, and playing a character that was that unapologetic in so many ways. It was so different from who I was.”