Jennifer Lopez was quite taken by The Boy Next Door script, so much so that she added her name as producer and not just star. She also had a little insight about what it was like to fall for someone like that, albeit a long time ago!
“Actually my first boyfriend was the boy next door when I was like 13 or 14 years old,” Lopez told Movie Fanatic.
Lopez and her team saw the script and immediately sought out help in producing it. A mainstay in the horror world, the team behind the Paranormal Activity movies and Sinister, arrived and not only did it expand Lopez’s cinematic reach, but the production company as well that can now add psychological thriller to their budding legacy.
“We produced it with Blumhouse. They’re the ones who got us the financing for it,” she reported.
At the end of the day it was the role of Claire Peterson that Lopez would play that got her to find room in her busy schedule as American Idol judge and pop princess to return to film.
“The character for me was something that seemed a perfect fit for right now. I really could relate. I think a lot of people can relate to what she’s been through and what she’s going through and being at the point in your life where your relationship falls apart and you’re left feeling that sense of worthlessness, like you don’t belong anywhere, and that everything you thought was true is not,” Lopez said.
“People can understand making a mistake in a moment like that.”
Although it may look glamorous and sexy, Lopez reported that her sex scene with the supremely attractive Ryan Guzman was not simply for titillating purposes. It was the linchpin of the entire thriller.
“Scenes like that are always uncomfortable. It’s a very vulnerable position to be in. It’s not something you ever get used to as an actress [and] it’s just as hard to bare your soul emotionally sometimes,” Lopez said.
“This was a very important scene in this film. If that scene didn’t work, the rest of the film doesn’t work. If it wasn’t intense, passionate, real enough, then the rest of the movie doesn’t make any sense. I’m glad that it was something that people are responding to.”
As teased in The Boy Next Door trailer, Lopez plays a woman who is grappling with a marriage that fell apart due to infidelity. Guzman’s Noah shows up next door and immediately sparks fly. The only thing is he is half (or more) her age, and due to delays in his education, he is still a student at the high school where she teaches. After one night of passion, Claire pushes Noah away and then the craziness and obsession begin (is The Boy Next Door one of our top 19 stalker movies?).
Although this is a straight-edged thriller, at our screening the audience laughed out loud at several scenes and, in the final act, cheered as Lopez’s character found her voice and fought back. Lopez said every bit of that was on purpose.
“We knew that we were making a popcorn thriller. We knew that. That doesn’t mean that you don’t want it to have themes that resonate with everybody or else it just doesn’t matter. Then you’re just making a bad movie. That wasn’t the intention,” Lopez said.
“The intention was to make a fun popcorn thriller that made people feel something, made you root for the main character. There’s a broken family and it’s about that family coming back together through this terrible thing that happens. It was always about her being broken at the beginning and finding the strength and realizing that her family is worth saving. That’s the most important thing in life and you fight for that to the death.”
When it comes to movies in general, given her history, when asked what type of movie is her favorite to make -- her answer should not surprise all that much. “I prefer romantic comedies,” Lopez said and chuckled. “They’re just fun. That’s a fun set. You’re just seeing how silly you can make things. They’re romantic and I’m a hopeless romantic as well. So I really enjoy doing that kind of stuff.”
But the woman who still impresses us with the powerful work she did in Out of Sight is not immune to tackling more thrillers like The Boy Next Door as well.
“But as far as the type of acting, like being more dramatic or being more tough or being more vulnerable, it’s all the same. It’s all about trying to find the reality in the moment, making it real. I’m constantly reminding myself, ‘Okay, your best friend just died. If you walked in and saw this, what would that be like?’ And then, all of a sudden I have this high-pitched scream that I’ve never heard myself do! And that’s when I know I’m tapping into something real,” Lopez said.
“That’s what it’s about. It’s just about the moment. It’s really, really exhausting on your emotions sometimes but fun when you feel like you’ve done it well.”