When it was announced that Maluma and Jennifer Lopez would be starring in a romantic comedy together we celebrated two of our favorite Latin artists coming together on the big screen for Marry Me. JLo, 52, and Maluma, 28, unsurprisingly have real chemistry in the film even though their romance is short-lived as Kat Valdez and Bastian. In the film, Kat and Bastian, both world-famous singers, are set to marry on stage in front of thousands of people when she finds out he wasn’t faithful. She decides to take a leap of faith and marry Charlie (Owen Wilson) instead and the film follows their developing relationship with Bastian peppered throughout post-breakup.
We see Kat and Bastian speak Spanish with each other and at one point she’s performing and calls out to all the “Latinos” in the house. The focus isn’t specifically on their culture, but it’s naturally interwoven into the film and that’s still such a rarity in Hollywood and in major rom-coms. With Maluma, in his film acting debut, playing a famous musician and representing the Latinx community was vital to the role.
“I wanted to bring my Latino culture to the movie too because I know that there is a lot of people from Latin America, they’re gonna feel attached to the movie too. Not only because of the way we’re acting, we’re talking about this main character that is called Bastian and he’s from Latin America, and it didn’t happen often,” Maluma said during a press conference.
Much like JLo, it doesn’t feel like Bastian might be too far from what Maluma is like in real life but he insisted the womanizer ways of his character don’t reflect who he is. “We both love music. We both love touring, performing and everything. So I feel pretty connected. But at the end of the movie, you can tell that I don’t really like that Bastian. Right? Because he’s super douchebag right? He did an awful thing.”
JLo has a long history with rom-coms including Maid In Manhattan (2002), The Wedding Planner (2001), and Monster in Law (2005) and for Marry Me she said it was the unique story that she found intriguing. “I think it’s hard to reinvent it every time. Like, how do you make it different than the last one, because we kind of always know that two people are going to wind up together. And that’s going to be the end,” Lopez said during the press conference. “It’s really about how interesting the journey is. And the the, the kind of interaction between the two characters and how interesting that is? And if that’s written well, that’s what makes me want to do it.”
The passion and chemistry between Kat and Bastian is fun to watch and a first for JLo opposite another Latinx in a rom-com like this though she did star opposite Rodrigo Santoro in the ensemble film, What to Expect When You’re Expecting. But the real romance comes through her evolving relationship with Wilson’s Charlie, the down to earth counterpart. Though for some the pairing of Wilson,53, — known for comedies including Wedding Crashers — and Lopez didn’t seem like the most compatible match, their chemistry is believable. Whereas Kat is a three-time divorcee with no children and a whole team scheduling her life, Charlie is a teacher and single dad who coaches the math club at his school and doesn’t have a smart phone. It’s the opposites attract concept to an extreme that on paper doesn’t make much sense but in the rom-com world with two charming actors it’s fun to watch.
Part of that comes from Kat’s willingness to continue to believe in love despite the multiple heartbreaks including such a public breakup. Sound familiar? JLo’s own love life has been dissected in the public eye and after three marriages herself and her love of love persists and she says the film explores that.
“Even with scenes with me and Owen, where he’s asking, don’t you want to just give up on the whole love thing, it was just that philosophy that she has,” she explained. “I understand it’s like, if there’s a one in a billion chance, no matter what the numbers are, that’s worth it. That’s worth it because I think what she is craving is, is that love in that home. And so there was a lot of moments there where we I was able to bring a truth to the character in the in the emotional life that was really authentic and real.”
Even though Kat and Bastian aren’t meant to be, to see a major rom-com with two Latinx leads feels like a sign of some progress being made in Hollywood when it comes to representation. According to a 2019 study by USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers and Wise Entertainment, of the 100 top-grossing movies released from 2007 to 2018, only 3 percent had Latinx actors in lead or co-lead roles. JLo, Cameron Diaz, Eugenio Derbez, and Jessica Alba held 16 of those 35 lead roles surveyed.
“For me It was pretty important to show the world that we, as Latin people, feel proud of it too. And we can make it in the big screen too,” Maluma said.