Wait: Did Ben Affleck Woo J.Lo Through Glowing Interview Quotes?

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There are wife guys (whose very online presence is an ode to their spouse) and Instagram husbands (de facto street style photographers and prop stylists for their partners’ DIY shoots). And then there is Ben Affleck: a Girlfriend Guy who gives glowing interview quotes about his former and current love, Jennifer Lopez.

Some celebrity partners are hesitant to get on the horn or even email a quote to a celebrity profiler, but Affleck—a writer, after all—is more than willing to sing his girlfriend’s praises in all manner of publications. The latest: an Adweek cover story hailing Lopez, founder of J.Lo Beauty, a “brand visionary.” 

In the story, Affleck gushes over Lopez’s efforts to represent and be inclusive of the Latinx community: “I am in awe of what Jennifer’s effect on the world is,” he said. “At most, as an artist, I can make movies that move people. Jennifer has inspired a massive group of people to feel they have a seat at the table in this country. ... That is an effect few people throughout history have had, one I will never know and one I can only stand by and admire with respect.”

It was hardly the first time Affleck expressed his adoration in print—nor is this a new trend. Even before the revival of Bennifer, Affleck (cited as “ex-fiancé and co-star in Gigli, 2003”) was among those quoted for InStyle’s May cover story of J.Lo, released in April, just before the pop star/actor/entrepreneur broke up with ex-fiancé Alex Rodriguez. “I thought I had a good work ethic, but I was completely humbled and blown away by what she was committed to doing day in and day out, the seriousness in which she took her work, the quiet and dedicated way she went about accomplishing her goals, and then how she would go back and redouble her efforts. She remains, to this day, the hardest-working person I’ve come across in this business,” Affleck said, making me wonder what Matt Damon makes of that assessment. “She has great talent, but she has also worked very hard for her success, and I’m so happy for her that she seems, at long last, to be getting the credit she deserves.”

I’m not one for conspiracy theories—especially not in this political landscape—but I have to wonder: Has Affleck been sending Lopez not-so-secret messages through his glowing interview comments? Was he laying bare—to Lopez, and to the world—his true feelings for her, one quote at a time? Note Affleck’s unabashedly flirtatious direct address to Lopez in InStyle: “Where are you keeping the fountain of youth? Why do you look the same as you did in 2003 and it kind of looks like I’m in my 40s … at best?” (Lopez’s reply? “Ben is funny! He still looks pretty good too.”) They’re not not flirting like people who would, mere months later, be making out on a yacht off the coast of Italy.

To the casual observer, it may seem like Bennifer 2.0 rose spontaneously from the ashes. In fact, Affleck has been frequently and openly talking about her in the press in the year or so preceding their reunion. When Lopez generated Oscar buzz for Hustlers but was passed over for a nomination last year, Affleck defended her. “She should have been nominated. She’s the real thing,” he told New York Times reporter Brooks Barnes. “I keep in touch periodically with her and have a lot of respect for her. How awesome is it that she had her biggest hit movie at 50? That’s f–ing baller.”

Affleck made a habit of valiantly defending Lopez. Earlier in 2020, he obliged The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast with thoughts on how Lopez was treated during their relationship in the early aughts. “People were so f–king mean about her—sexist, racist. Ugly, vicious s–t was written about her in ways that if you wrote it now, you would literally be fired for saying those things you said,” he said. “Now ... she’s lionized and respected for the work she did, where she came from, what she accomplished—as well she f–ing should be! … I would say you have a better shot—coming from the Bronx—of ending up as like [Justice Sonia] Sotomayor on the Supreme Court than you do of having Jennifer Lopez’s career and being who she is at 50 years old today.” Flowers are fine, but have you been likened to a Supreme Court justice by your ex in a public forum?

If flattery gets you everywhere, Affleck has clearly succeeded in winning back the object of his affection, and the subject of many a media interview. Were his many quotes about Lopez all part of a long game to win her back? Excuse me while I submit a request for comment.

Originally Appeared on Vogue