Jennifer Lopez could have played the lead in ‘Unfaithful’ but she passed on it

One of the most interesting “celebrity gossip” categories to me is the “this actor turned down this role,” or “that actress tried really hard to get that role” stories. It’s always said that it’s bad form and unprofessional for an actor to discuss roles they’ve passed on, but those are always the most interesting “what if” stories. What if… Winona Ryder had done Shakespeare in Love instead of Gwyneth Paltrow? What if Nicole Kidman had never pulled out of Mr. and Mrs. Smith? And on and on. In Vanity Fair’s trainwreck Hollywood Issue, Jennifer Lopez reveals that she passed on a certain project and I truly never knew she was even up for the role. It was a role which earned the actress the best reviews of her career AND an Oscar nomination. The part: the wife in Unfaithful, played by Diane Lane. WHOA. You can read J.Lo’s profile here (it is so bittersweet considering her Oscar nomination snub). Some highlights:

What’s left on her bucket list: “It’s always a career thing that they ask about, and I think, Oh, yeah. Direct. But if you’re saying bucket list, I would love to live somewhere other than the United States, in a small town in Italy, or on the other side of the world, in Bali. Find another life where it’s a little bit more simple and organic and where I get to ride a bike, and buy bread, and put it in my basket, and then go home and put jelly on it, and just eat and paint, or sit in a rocking chair where there was a beautiful view of an olive tree or an oak tree and I could just smell. I have fantasies like that.

She’s not her characters: “Acting is the love of my life. You have your first love and the love of your life, and acting is the love of my life. I feel like every time I take on a role, it is only about becoming somebody that I’m not. When they go in and see me, they don’t see J. Lo—they see the maid, they see the stripper, they see who they’re supposed to see, because I’m able to still give you the suspension of disbelief. That is the challenge of it for me, but also the thrill of it for me.

Whether she’s ever regretted turning down a project: “Yes. There was a movie called Unfaithful. And it was offered to me and the script, for me, wasn’t all the way there. I should have known that Adrian Lyne was going to kill it, but I didn’t. Diane Lane was so perfect for it, and it was obviously meant to be her, but when I think about that…I want to literally, like, shoot my toe off. I do.

Which film genre she would like to see become more inclusive with Latinas: “Action and superhero films need to be a little bit more represented at this point.”

Her Hustlers character: “It was the first time I got to play a character who was unapologetically out for herself and kind of bad, actually taken over by greed…. She was so many different things. The best mom to this little girl, a best friend, and then a total savage. That was really new for me.

[From Vanity Fair]

Unfaithful came out during those Peak J.Lo years – it was released in 2002, which is when Jennifer was already established as a triple threat, and she was making endless rom-coms. It would have been amazing to see her as a upper-middle-class wife with ennui, engaged in a torrid affair with Olivier Martinez. It would have been HOT. But I agree, Diane Lane killed it, she was so good in that. But what if, what if. Jennifer’s career would have been massively different, right? Also: she said no to Unfaithful but did Gigli around the same time OH MY GOD.

Selena Gomez WOWS in vintage-inspired look in NYC

Cover & IG courtesy of Vanity Fair.

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26 Responses to “Jennifer Lopez could have played the lead in ‘Unfaithful’ but she passed on it”

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  1. Gem says:

    Ugh. People need to stop trying to make Jennifer Lopez the Serious Actress happen! Diane Lane made that movie. J Lo would have been entirely wrong in that role. I am ready for Jennifer’s latest five minutes to be over.

    • Kimberly says:


      thank you!!!

      yes she did mi familia….as a minor character….yes she did Selena…a bio-pic she did decent in….but let’s not get it twisted, she is NOT Meryl Streep for Fuqu’s sake…..I get she needs the escalator moving her up to make her appear talented and special….but she’s not…and she is a horrible pick for the superbowl. . . RhiRhi would have been better.

  2. Louise177 says:

    For the life of me I can’t picture her doing that role.

  3. Becks1 says:

    Interesting. You could say that role would have taken her out of rom com and established her as a Serious Actress a lot sooner, or you could say that Diane Lane made the movie and it wouldn’t have been Unfaithful without her. I find it fascinating to think about.

  4. Beech says:

    Really? Diane Lane gave a stunning performance.

  5. smcollins says:

    Huh… I really can’t picture JLo in that movie, mostly because DL was fantastic in the role and her chemistry with OM was off-the-charts but also because I. just. can’t. see. it. JLo’s not a bad actress, and I was really impressed with her work in Hustlers, but emotionally layered performances isn’t exactly what she’s known for (especially back then). That train scene alone, where Diane’s character is thinking about what she’s just done…that was powerful without her ever saying a word. Sorry, but JLo doesn’t have that kind of range.

  6. Nikki* says:

    I think J-Lo’s fabulous, but I’ve been a Diane Lane fan since she was about 13 years old (in some movie w/ Laurence Olivier.) She reminds me of Natalie Wood in that she has a delicate, almost fragile beauty, and combines grace and vulnerability with strength. If you like rom-coms, I laughed out loud at “Must Love Dogs” and it’s one of my favorites! Loved “Under the Tuscan Sun” too!

    • BellaBella says:

      That fragile beauty that you mention is why I will never see a movie with Josh Brolin in it. He was arrested at least once on domestic violence charges for hitting her. Now there’s someone whose career hasn’t been affected by his abusive past.

    • Original Jenns says:

      Not that movie, but another, The Outsiders… she is BREATHTAKING.

    • Bosandi says:

      @Nikki I agree whole hardheartedly. It’s her fragile beauty that only helps to amplify her incredible acting skills. She has a way of looking so vulnerable, sweet, and sexy at the same time. There is no way Lopez could ever have pulled off the scene in Unfaithful where Lane is crying and laughing while thinking of her first time with Oliver. Lopez doesn’t have the range for that.

      I like Jennifer Lopez in a lot of movies and just overall but she’s in no way an Oscar contender for any role she has played. To put her in the category of Lane and even Lupita who was robbed this year is an insult. Kudos to her team for pushing the Jennifer Lopez Oscar contented narrative though.

  7. Bohemian Angel says:

    Diane Lane was great in that film, if it was Jennifer Lopez I wouldn’t have bothered watching it despite the delightful Olivier co starring.

  8. LadyLou says:

    Honestly, I don’t think she would have been good in that role.

  9. Veruca_Salty says:

    It’s interesting to hear J. Lo say that she would like to live somewhere far away in Italy or Bali to just buy bread and ride a bike and chill out lol. The thing is, someone like her has absolutely all the resources and wealth to do exactly just that. But that would mean being out of the spotlight and pap strolls coming out of the gym and I don’t think she could stand NOT having constant attention and press.

    • Josephine says:

      She strikes me as more of a workaholic. Maybe she loves the attention and all that jazz but she’s someone I forget about sometimes so I feel like she shows up huge when she has something to promote and then fades away a bit. I can’t imagine her stepping back. She’s always been constantly busy and has taken on different roles and I absolutely appreciate how successful she has been and how much she works. She turned a dancing gig into so much, much more and did it in fields where no one was particularly interested in Latina women. I don’t love everything about her but she’s way more than pap strolls and press.

      • Veruca_Salty says:

        Oh, I totally agree with you. I didn’t mean to sound as if i was dismissing her as just a thirsty celeb doing pap strolls! She def has a strong work ethic; you have to work hard to maintain the level of fame and relevance that she’s had and being a triple threat, whether you’re a fan of it all or not. But she does love the attention that she gets wherever she goes!

    • Granger says:

      That comment struck me as well. It actually sounds a little sad. It’s like, the list of things she can’t do now — travel anonymously, take a leisurely bike ride, eat bread with sugary jam on it — is so SIMPLE, but she can’t allow herself to relax and just do everything on it.

  10. Lena says:

    At the time Adrian Lyne was known as doing hot,sexy films and Diane Lane wasn’t really thought of that way at all. It really changed the thinking around her while if jLo had done it people would have just shrugged oh well, of Course hot, sexy jlo is doing a sexy film. The reception would have been totally different imo. It’s considered bad form for an actor to say they were offered the part first but turned it down and Matt Damon does it All the Time and I hate/love it because yeah it’s fun to think of what if. ..

  11. Luciana says:

    Am I the only person who thinks that J Lo is a TERRIBLE actress?? Seriously…aside from Out of Sight, she has been awful in everything I’ve ever seen her in. She would have been dreadful in Unfaithful. Diane Lane was amazing in that role, although it helps that she can actually act.

  12. lucy2 says:

    I can’t picture her in that role. At all. But it has to be frustrating to see how great it turned out for Diane (who was awesome in that movie).

    Whenever someone mentions a role they turned down, I always wonder if the person who DID get the role was told they were the first choice. And I also wonder how many of those “I turned it down” were real offers, or just a meeting or discussion or something.

    “I have fantasies like that.” JLo, you have all the money in the world, go DO IT. Go live in Italy for a bit and enjoy the success the hard work has brought!

  13. LadyLaw says:

    She doesn’t have the range.

  14. Lala11_7 says:

    Diane’s character in “Unfaithful”…had to display a vulnerability…and a likability…that…I’m sorry…I don’t see JLo displaying…ESPECIALLY at that time…that is a VERY nuanced character…one where you HAD to stay with her and forgive her even when she was at her worst….


  15. Busyann says:

    I like J.Lo but she would have been miscast in Unfaithful.

  16. SM says:

    So she passed an opportunity to have a latina upper-middle-class wife with ennui, engaged in a torrid affair with Olivier Martinez in a film… ugh. Sometimes bad decisions come into the mix of underepresentation. It would have been revolutionary at the time. Hell I would watch the remake of that movie with JLo now!

  17. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    JLo’s ego wouldn’t have worked for Unfaithful. The part called for a kind of timid, unsure but interested awareness. Diane was perfect for that character, right down to her shaking beneath his touch.