Inside Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez's enduring relationship from music vid to 'decoy brides' as couple reunite
DON’T be fooled – the biggest couple of the Noughties, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, could be reunited, 17 years after they called it a day.
Hollywood actor Ben, 48, and his ex-fiance, 51, have been spotted on a secret getaway together in Montana.
Photos of the rendezvous show Ben behind the wheel of a car with Jennifer in the passenger seat.
It comes just a week after they were spotted meeting up three times in one week in secret hang out sessions.
A source told People: "[Jennifer] spent several days with Ben out of town. They have a strong connection. It's all been quick and intense, but Jennifer is happy."
The clandestine meetings in Bel-Air, California – organised with military precision – come as both have recently found themselves newly single.
Ben split from Cuban actress Ana de Armas, 33, in January, while Jennifer called it a day from her fiance and ex-baseball pro Alex Rodriguez, 45, just last month.
And the mysterious meet ups have fans asking if Bennifer could be back on.
One source told People: “They have a lot of love for each other. They have always admired each other.”
Paparazzi pictures showed Ben at the Hotel Bel-Air on 22 April, where hours later Jennifer was seen leaving in her white SUV.
On 28 April, Ben was pictured heading to Jennifer’s £20million ($28million) mansion in the same upmarket Los Angeles neighbourhood.
A day later, Ben was picked up by Jennifer’s white SUV from Hotel Bel-Air and the same car dropped him off at the same spot later in the day.
Singing each other's praises
For exes, the pair have been quick to gush about their admiration for each other – especially in recent years.
Now they are both single, could they be on the verge of rekindling their relationship?
Friends appear to think Ben has been holding on for Jennifer to be a free agent once more.
A source said before the meetings last month: “It’s no coincidence that Ben’s been praising Jen to high heaven now that he’s single again.
“Her and Ben’s split had nothing to do with a lack of attraction for each other – he was just disillusioned with the whole fame game.
“But they’ve both mellowed so much over the past 18 years – they’re on very good terms and have chatted a lot recently.
“They don’t have much to lose by giving it another try… Ben is willing to be patient.”
The stars’ camps have been quick to try to play down rumours of a reunion, with an insider saying: “They are friends … they’ve never not been.”
But both Ben and Jen have been on a mutual flattery campaign over the last few months with a series of flirty comments through the press. Last month, Ben praised Jennifer for her age-defying beauty.
He said: “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?”
In the same piece, Jennifer responded: “Ben is funny! He still looks pretty good too.”
A whirlwind romance
The budding couple met 19 years ago in 2002 on the set of box office flop Gigli while she was still married to dancer ex-husband Cris Judd, now 51.
After dumping her husband, Ben and Jen went public with their romance, quickly earning the media moniker “Bennifer”.
The relationship quickly turned serious as they got engaged with a 6.1 carat pink diamond ring in November 2002.
In 2003, Ben appeared in Jennifer’s music video for Jenny from the Block where they poked fun at the media attention their partnership brought.
In the video paparazzi find the pair at a petrol station, canoodling on a yacht and reading magazine articles about themselves.
But cracks soon began to appear in what seemed like the ultimate showbiz couple of the era.
A day before they were due to get married in Santa Barbara in September 2003, they hurriedly announced they were postponing.
In a statement at the time, they pointed the finger of blame at the press: “Due to the excessive media attention surrounding our wedding, we have decided to postpone the date.
“When we found ourselves seriously contemplating hiring three separate ‘decoy brides’ at three different locations, we realized that something was awry.
“We began to feel that the spirit of what should have been the happiest day of our lives could be compromised.”
By 2004, Jennifer and Ben had cancelled the wedding for good and split.
In January this year, Ben hinted things might be very different for Jennifer now.
He said: “People were so f*****g 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.
“Now it’s like, she’s lionized and respected for the work she did, where she came from, what she accomplished — as well she f*****g should be!”
Likewise, Hustlers star Jennifer last month reflected on her time as Bennifer and her early 2000s fame.
She said: “I would do it all again I think. Even the relationship part.”
But it’s not the first time Jennifer had hinted her relationship with Ben could have flourished under different circumstances.
Speaking in 2016, she said: “We just happened to be together at the birth of the tabloids, and it was like ‘Oh, my God.’ It was just a lot of pressure.
“I think different time, different thing, who knows what could’ve happened?
“But there was a genuine love there.”
Quickly moving on
Following the split, both Jen and Ben became quickly entangled in serious relationships.
Just six months after calling off her engagement to Ben, Jennifer had married singer Marc Anthony, 52.
She had briefly dated Marc in the 90s, starred in the video for his Spanish language song Contra La Corriente and recorded a duet, No Me Ames in 1999.
Together, the pair had twins Emme and Max in 2008 but by 2011 Jennifer and Marc announced they had separated.
Their divorce was finalised three years later.
She said in 2016 she knew straightaway the marriage wouldn’t last: “I hung in there for seven years. I knew very quickly that it wasn’t the right thing.”
More failed relationships
Jennifer moved on with toyboy choreographer Casper Smart, 34, for five years.
In 2017, she met Alex Rodriguez before getting engaged two years later – but the relationship wasn’t to last.
In an eerie echo of her relationship with Ben, Jennifer announced she had postponed her wedding twice – which they said was due to Covid.
In March rumours emerged the pair had split following cheating allegations with US reality star Madison LeCroy, 30.
The Southern Charm star denied her friendship with A-Rod was physical. She said: “He’s never physically cheated on his fiancée with me.”
The couple denied they had parted ways but released a statement saying: “We are working through some things.”
By April 15, they had called the relationship off.
Their statement read: “We have realized we are better as friends and look forward to remaining so.
“We will continue to work together and support each other on our shared businesses and projects.”
The new Bennifer
Meanwhile by October 2004, Ben had gone public with his romance with Pearl Harbour co-star Jennifer Garner, 49 – who he married in 2005.
He later told how he fell in love with Garner while filming Daredevil with her in 2002 – while he was dating J-Lo.
He said in 2017: “We met on Pearl Harbor, which people hate, but we fell in love on Daredevil.”
They had three children together, Violet, Seraphina and Samuel but things too turned sour for Ben and Garner.
But amid much-denied rumours Ben had cheated with the family nanny Christine Ouzounian in 2015, the couple announced they were getting divorced.
In 2017 and 2018, Affleck went to rehab for alcohol addiction, he said: “I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction; something I’ve dealt with in the past and will continue to confront.
“I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be.”
Soon after he dated SNL writer Lindsay Shookus, 40, in 2017 and had a two-month fling with then 22-year-old Playboy model Shauna Sexton in 2018. In 2019, he had a fresh start with Cuban No Time to Die actress Ana de Armas while filming Deep Water together.
Ana and Ben split in January this year, allegedly due to Affleck not wanting more children.
A source said: “He would not commit to having more kids. She is in her 30s. It was a deal-breaker.”
Other sources shared: “Ben is not in a place to start a new family.
“Both he and Ana have three jobs lined up.”
Ben is soon to appear in Ridley Scot film The Last Duel and is scheduled to appear as Batman in The Flash in 2022.
While Jennifer was nominated for a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award for her role in 2019 film Hustlers. She was chosen to perform at the US President’s inauguration in January.
Ben gushed last month: “I’m so happy for her that she seems, at long last, to be getting the credit she deserves.”
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