“I could literally have just walked away,” Lopez continued, explaining that she had just finished a promotional shoot for her NBC series Shades of Blue when she saw Rodriguez walking by. She decided to go up and introduce herself, and the first thing A-Rod said back was, “You look so beautiful.”
And now, the two cover the December issue of Vanity Fair, the cover story released online this morning (Oct. 31).
A few days after their initial meeting, Lopez and Rodriguez met at Hotel Bel Air for dinner. Rodriguez wasn’t sure at first if it was actually a date, or if they were just meeting later at night because of Lopez’s busy schedule.
“He was sitting there in his white shirt, very confident and manly, but then he was just so talkative,” Lopez recalled. “I think he thought I was going to be this loud person, but I’m not. I just listen. So he’s talking, talking about his plans, about how he had just retired from baseball, about how he saw himself getting married again, all these things you wouldn’t normally talk about on a first date. I don’t know if he thought it was a date. I thought it was a date. Then I knew he was nervous because he asked me if I wanted a drink. I said, ‘No, I don’t drink,’ and he asked if I minded if he had one. He was nervous, and it was really cute.”
Once Lopez let it slip that she was single, Rodriguez recalibrated his approach and while walking back from the bathroom decided to text Lopez, “You look sexy AF.” That spiced up the chemistry, but then the fire alarm went off and the two had to leave.
They feel like they are “very much twins”
Rodriguez said that he shares an exceptional amount in common with Lopez — “we’re both Leos; we’re both from New York; we’re both Latino and about 20 other things.”
Lopez echoed his sentiment by saying that, “I understand him in a way that I don’t think anyone else could, and he understands me in a way that no one else could ever. In his 20s, he came into big success with the biggest baseball contract [at the time]. I had a No. 1 movie and a No. 1 album and made history. We both had ups and downs and challenges in our 30s, and by our 40s we’d both been through so much. And more importantly than anything, we had both done a lot of work on ourselves.”
They each experienced insane success at a young age and struggled to cope
Rodriguez debuted in the MLB with the Seattle Mariners at age 18 in July 1994, the youngest player in the league at the time. Lopez became the first Latin actress to ever earn $1 million for a role (Maid in Manhattan) in 2002. But both of them also share humble beginnings — Jenny from the Block sharing a bedroom with two sisters in the Bronx, and Rodriguez born to Dominican Republic emigrants, born in New York before growing up in Miami.
Both experienced extreme self-doubt and pressure from all of the success.
“I was eviscerated,” Lopez said, speaking the fallout from her 2003 film Gigli. “I lost my sense of self, questioned if I belonged in this business, thought maybe I did suck at everything. And my relationship [with co-star Ben Affleck] self-destructed in front of the entire world. It was a two-year thing for me until I picked myself up again.”
Rodriguez said that his $252 million contract made him question whether he was worth it, with his main goal being “to give R.O.I. [return of investment] to owners who believed in me.”
“We’re both like this,” Lopez admitted. “We put so much pressure on ourselves to be great, to be the best all the time. We understood that about each other. When we came together it was ‘Oh my God, I was the same way.’ ”
Rodriguez’s MLB career almost ended in scandal — a steroid scandal — when he was suspended for an entire season in 2014. Of the suspension and public shame, Rodriguez said he didn’t leave the house for seven days. “It was a knife to my ribs,” he explained. “I thought I’d played my last game. I grew a beard — as much as I can grow it — and didn’t want to see anyone, including my kids.”
But he was able to come back one more season, and play his last games completely clean. He now works as an analyst for MLB coverage on FOX.
Jennifer Lopez is a health freak
Rodriguez noted that Lopez is “happiest at home, in PJ’s, eating chocolate chip cookies with friends” — chocolate chip cookies being a rare indulgence, as Rodriguez says that his girlfriend is “the role model for health and wellness. She rarely drinks. She tries to get at least eight hours of sleep. That helps explain why she’s so beautiful.”
They believe they had to meet later in life in order to fall in love
McLean writes: “Each believes that if they had been single when they met, 12 years ago, the relationship wouldn’t have worked. ‘We had to grow and discover ourselves first,’ [Lopez] says. But it also works for another reason. As Goldsmith-Thomas [Lopez’s longtime co-worker and friend] says, ‘They weren’t afraid to dream, and they are still dreaming, both of them.’
Lopez also said: “The most impressive thing to me was how he did pick himself up and take that opportunity to make himself a better person… The hardest times prove who you are. That’s what I love and admire the most about Alex. He doesn’t let anything beat him. He just comes back stronger.”
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