Jennifer Lopez's Film Director Explains 'Purposeful' Decision Not to Show Ben Affleck's Face in “This Is Me...Now” (Exclusive)

Director Dave Meyers tells PEOPLE that one scene was directly inspired by a famous photo of Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck on a motorcycle

<p>Lionel Hahn/WireImage</p> Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in Los Angeles on Feb. 13, 2024

Lionel Hahn/WireImage

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in Los Angeles on Feb. 13, 2024

Jennifer Lopez’s new film is inspired by her love story with Ben Affleck — and though he does appear in the Amazon original, it’s not in the way you may think.

The Oscar-winning actor and director does indeed appear in This Is Me…Now: A Love Story, but his cameos are brief; in some scenes, his face is shrouded in mystery, and in others, he appears in disguise as a newscaster named Rex Stone.

Dave Meyers, who directed the film, tells PEOPLE that this was a creative decision he and Lopez, 54, made in order to highlight the personal growth the star had gained during her and Affleck’s time apart.

“We did hem and haw on the opening scene, but we really did not want to end it with, the whole journey of love was just to get back to Ben,” says Meyers. “That was purposeful, because everything Jen was telling me was about her own personal maturity and what she’s gone through and learned about herself. That’s the thing that people will mostly relate to.”

In This Is Me…Now: A Love Story, viewers see a fictionalized version of Lopez in various stages of her life over the last 20 years as she makes her way through three failed marriages, toxic relationships and waves of self-doubt, all set to her new album. Though she (spoiler alert!) eventually finds her way back to Affleck, his face is never shown.

Related: Jennifer Lopez Announces This Is Me... Now the Tour for Summer 2024 — See the Dates!

<p>Courtesy of Amazon MGM Studios</p> Jennifer Lopez in a scene from This Is Me..Now: A Love Story

Courtesy of Amazon MGM Studios

Jennifer Lopez in a scene from This Is Me..Now: A Love Story

He is seen, however, as newscaster Stone, whose broadcasts play occasionally throughout the film. Putting Affleck in disguise was a creative decision Meyers and Lopez made in order to emphasize the fact that the Air star remained present in her life, even when they weren’t together (Something Meyers learned when Lopez shared a private book of love letters gifted to her by Affleck when they got back together).

“One of the early thoughts that I was playing with [with] Jen was that we had Ben playing lots of characters, but always in disguise, so it was like he was always ever-present,” he says. “What I felt when I heard that there was a book of 20 years of their correspondence, I’m like, God, what an amazing sort of heirloom to know that exists. And so to me, in the film, that was Ben being ever-present in her life. And so budget got cut and one thing led to another and it became just one character. And we spread him out throughout the film as this sort of ever-present energy.”

The film also includes a moment that some fans might find familiar: the image of Lopez happily riding on the back of Affleck’s motorcycle.

Meyers confirms that the shot was pulled from real life; in 2002, Affleck, wearing a black T-shirt and sunglasses, was photographed on a motorcycle with a smiling Lopez holding him tight on the back. The image was famously used in a 2003 Vanity Fair cover story on Affleck.

<p>Darren Gerrish/Getty</p> Jennifer Lopez in Dubai on Feb. 10, 2024

Darren Gerrish/Getty

Jennifer Lopez in Dubai on Feb. 10, 2024

“Her and Ben are so happy in that one shot, and Ben’s the bad boy, and she couldn’t be happier. Recreating that moment as the indication of ‘perfect love’ was meaningful to Jen when she shared that as one of her favorite moments from that era,” says Meyers. “And so I thought it was a great way to start the film and recreate where all her misalignment with herself began for our story.”

Meyers and Lopez — who on Thursday announced a new 34-date tour set for this summer — first worked together in the early 2000s on music videos for songs like “I’m Real” and “All I Have.” When they caught up again to discuss This Is Me…Now, Lopez filled him in on all she’d been through over the years.

He digested that conversation, he says, and came back to her to pitch a “sort of abstract essence of her brand tracking the 20 years from Ben to now.”

“[We] had the most scary but wonderful time — scary just because nobody understood it. And Ben was always very encouraging and would walk in the room when we were working and just have little pointers,” says Meyers. “I feel like I have true love in my life, and when I lens that up, being at their house and being in intimate spaces with them over a couple of months, it just seemed like they’re very, very very much true love… It was just really lovely to see how solid and supportive they were of each other. It inspired me in my marriage, even. Obviously Jen and her determination drove 95% of it, but I don’t know if there’s Jen without Ben at this point.”

Related: Emotional Jennifer Lopez Chokes Up as She Thanks Ben Affleck During This Is Me...Now Film Screening in L.A.

<p>John Salangsang/Shutterstock</p> Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck at the This Is Me... Now: A Love Story premiere in Los Angeles on Feb. 13, 2024

John Salangsang/Shutterstock

Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck at the This Is Me... Now: A Love Story premiere in Los Angeles on Feb. 13, 2024

This Is Me…Now: A Love Story premiered in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, with Lopez and Affleck stepping out together on the red carpet.

Ahead of the screening, Lopez grew emotional as she thanked her husband, whom she married in July 2022.

"And then there is the person who inspired this for me, who has inspired me my whole life. He just, he inspired an album 20 years ago and I know he hates that I'm doing this right now," Lopez said.

"He's just like, 'Please shut up.’ No! And I say no. I say, I love you and thank you for believing in me and helping me believe in myself," she continued. "And helping me to grow every single day. Thank you for the family that we've created and our children and everything that you do for me."

"You will never know what it is to be able to share this lifetime and have you be my love. Thank you," Lopez concluded.

This Is Me…Now: A Love Story is now streaming on Prime Video.

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