She made her TV-movie debut as a nurse among crash victims in the dense Mexican jungle in “Nurses on the Line: The Crash of Flight 7” (CBS, 1993). She went on to portray Melinda Lopez, a Latina maiden under the watchful eye of her father (Pepe Serna) in the short-lived CBS series “Second Chances” (1993-94), and repeated the role in “Hotel Malibu” (1994), an equally unsuccessful revamp of the former. She also appeared in “South Central” (Fox, 1994), as a co-worker of star Tina Lifford. In 1994, Lopez even co-hosted “Growing Up Roses” (CBS), a special recapping the best moments in Tournament of Roses Parade history.
TV proved too small a medium for Lopez, whose talent and charisma as well as hypnotic good looks cried out for the big screen. Her first feature success came with Gregory Nava‘s “My Family/Mi Familia” (1995). That same year, she co-starred as the pistol-packing Gloria Santiago opposite Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes in the action blockbuster “Money Train“. In 1996, she was Robin Williams‘ sympathetic fifth grade teacher, (a role not specifically written for a Latina) in “Jack“, a fantasy by Francis Ford Coppola that starred Williams as a ten-year-old whose aging process is drastically accelerated.
Lopez was catapulted to prominence when she was cast in the title role of “Selena” (1997), the moving biopic about the beloved slain Tejano singer. Selena’s influential life and tragic death made for a truly compelling film, and the actress’ vibrant, intuitive portrayal set her apart from her peers and readied her for stardom. That year she married Ojani Noa a waiter she met a few months before in a Miami restaurant they stayed married less than a year. With strong reviews for her turn in the noirish thriller “Blood and Wine“, Lopez was poised for greater things, as evidenced by her casting alongside Nick Nolte and Sean Penn in Oliver Stone‘s “U-Turn” (both also 1997). In 1998, Lopez solidified her leading lady status, starring opposite George Clooney in Steven Soderbergh’s subtly steamy action thriller “Out of Sight“. Displaying a winning sense of humor that added a down-to-earth charm to her undeniable sultriness, Lopez proved a good fit for heartthrob Clooney, and the two displayed the kind of onscreen fireworks that were notably missing in the actor’s prior efforts.
Winning rave reviews for her performances, Lopez was well on her way to superstardom, after a year break working on music Lopez was enjoying more screen success as the star of the odd sci-fi thriller “The Cell” (2000). Directed by famed commercial and music video visionary Tarsem, the film drew from various art influences, and made up for lagging plot devices with an sweet dose of eye candy. Lopez outfitted in ornate, elaborate and futuristic garb pleased audiences. In 2001, she tried her hand at fluffy romantic comedy, playing “The Wedding Planner” who quite literally falls for the groom (Matthew McConaughey). Lopez showed a surprising talent for the sillier side of things, and convincingly ditched her glamorous image for one of a frazzled workaholic prone to pratfalls and other embarrassing mishaps. Audiences flocked to the feel-good comedy, and the final week in January 2001 saw the film as well as her newly-released album “J.Lo” hit the top of their respective charts simultaneously.
Lopez starred as a policewoman who falls for Jim Caviezel in the romantic thriller “Angel Eyes“(2001). In 2002, Lopez starred in Michael Apted‘s thiller/drama “Enough“. In this film, Lopez played an abused woman who realized that the only way to escape her abuser (her husband) was to kill him. Both “Angel Eyes” and “Enough” performed wanly at the box office, but her album “This is Me…” also released in in 2002 was a big succes, sh e would get engaged to actor Ben Affleck who she let while film the movie Gigli earlier that year. Her next film cast her in a mild, “Pretty Woman”-esque Cinderella mode for “Maid in Manhattan” (2002), in which she played a housekeeper at a high class New York hotel who falls for a handsome politician (Ralph Finnes) the film will become her biggest Hit at the US box-office ($95M).
Lopez’s public profile reached critical mass with the release of “Gigli” (2003), the mob-based action-comedy on which she first met Affleck. After months of media hype surrounding the “Bennifer” relationship, public expectation of an on-screen romance between Lopez and Affleck was so high, the film was the subject of extensive reshooting and reconfiguring to accomodate the perceptions, although Lopez’s character was written and initially shot as a confirmed lesbian. The film, a gangster action-comedy in which Affleck plays an incompotent mob thug, was the victim of bad buzz for months before its release and received a critical drubbing–possibly even an over-harsh response–when it finally hit theaters. Lopez continued to exist at the eye of the media storm when she and Affleck called off their wedding in September 2003 and split for good in early 2004, followed by press reports that she sought solace with Latin singing sensation Marc Anthony. Meanwhile, the “Bennifer” backlash was so intense, the makers of the next Affleck-Lopez collaboration, writer-director Kevin Smith‘s comedy “Jersey Girl” (2004) extremely downplayed Lopez’s involvement (and indeed, her role was small and brief, playing Affleck’s doomed wife in the film’s opening sequences).
In midst of her busy life she continued to make films: she was paired opposite Richard Gere as an icy dance instructor who rediscovers her passions as she teaches Gere’s obsessed family man how to move across the dance floor in the romance “Shall We Dance?” (2004), a role that made great use of her prowess as a dancer. In 2005 her next film was the comedy “Monster-In-Law” (2005), pitted her effectively against screen legend Jane Fonda (in her first role in 15 years): in the film Lopez’s sweet-natured temp finds the man of her dreams, only to be menaced by his meddling, over-protective mother who hopes to drive her away. Candy-sweet on the outside at first, Lopez eventually reveals the inner steel that made her more than a match for the icon Fonda. Her next film, Lasse Halstrom‘s “An Unfinished Life” (2005) was released long after completion due to the complexities of the restructuring of Miramax following the departure of Bob and Harvey Weinstein, and while Lopez generally received good notices for her role as a widowed mother in an abusive relationship who seeks shelter with her estranged father-in-law (Robert Redford).
In 2005 she filmed 2 movies that she partly financed herself Bordertown with Antonio Banderas a drama about the rapes & murders happening in Juarez Gregory Nava directed the movie a few months later she filmed El Cantante a biopic about the life of salsa singer Hector Lavoe with Marc Anthony a project they planned to do together long before their wedding.
2007 Bordertown was only released oversea, and El cantante in the summer 2008, most critics praised Jennifer performance but not the movie. In 2009 she filmed her first movie in 3 years the romantic comedy “The Back-Up Plan” also starring Alex O’loughlin, released in 2010 it will have a minor success.
In July Jennifer signed for 2 films the ensemble rom-com “What to expect when you’re expecting” also starring Rodrigo Santoro and Cameron Diaz and the Crime/Thriller “Parker” with Jason Statham.