Date: Jan. 14, 2021

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast, the Oscar winner looked back at how heavily their relationship was covered by the tabloids and on the internet, and how poorly J.Lo was treated by the public. “There is always a story of the month. Me dating Jennifer Lopez happened to be that tabloid story at the time when that business grew exponentially,” he said. “At first it was an infatuation, what an interesting couple and then there was a ton of resentment—ton of resentment against me, a ton of resentment against Jennifer.”

“People were so fucking mean about her. Sexist, racist, ugly, vicious shit 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 fucking should be!” he continued. “I would say you have a better shot, coming from the Bronx, of ending up as like [Justice Sonia] Sotomayor on the Supreme Court than you do of having Jennifer Lopez’s career and being who she is at 50 years old today.”

The actor shared a similar thought during his interview with Vanity Fair in 2003. “I think it has to do with race and class, the fact that I’m white and she’s Puerto Rican. That’s what’s underneath, although nobody says it, because it’s not politically correct,” he said at the time. “I think this also has to do with race. There’s a kind of language that’s used about her—the spicy Latina, the tempestuous diva. She’s characterized as oversexed. I mean, the woman’s had five boyfriends in her whole life! She’s a deeply misunderstood woman, in my opinion.”