JENNIFER LOPEZ returns to movies from a three-year hiatus with The Back-up Plan, and like any good actor she has done her character research. • Lopez plays Zoe, a happily single woman who's artificially inseminated with twins just before meeting Mr. Right. J-Lo met her Mr. Right years ago — actor-singer Marc Anthony — and gave birth to fraternal twins in 2008. She knows what Zoe learns about cravings, labor pains and crying babies. • The Back-up Plan puts Lopez back in her romantic-comedy element that moviegoers pay to see, after a prenatal string of dramatic box office underachievers, including El Cantante, co-starring Anthony. She discussed motherhood and returning to form in a telephone interview from Miami, tossing in updates on her next CD, rumors about appearing on the TV series Glee and the state of her feet.
Welcome back from maternity leave. Tough getting back in the groove?
Thank you! It's like riding a bike, you know? At first it's like, oh, I have to get up on this bike. Then it's like, oh, I know how to ride this thing. Let's do a wheelie.
Why go back to work after being pregnant by playing pregnant?
It's funny. Throughout my career — music and movies — I've always attracted projects that do mirror my life in some way; some issue that I'm going through or something I need to work out or express. Selena was a really good example of a movie where my life was kind of mirroring what hers was. It's not always like the exact same story but there are themes within a song or a movie when you know it's kind of meant to be. This movie was no different. It just came at the perfect time.
Is artificial insemination something you'd consider doing, like Zoe?
Not me personally. It's not that I'm against it in any way, shape or form. I think it's, like, a miracle, especially for people who can't have babies, who have that option now. . . . I just don't think that I could have a baby on my own, as it pertains to the movie. . . . Single working mom has got to be the hardest gig on the planet.
Before taking time off, you had a string of dramas that didn't do as well as I'm sure you hoped. Does that make you gun-shy about doing drama?
Not at all. El Cantante was one of the most fulfilling roles and times of my career, to be quite honest. It didn't have the box office that Monster-in-Law had, or a romantic comedy. Some things in your career, when you're in it for a long time, are not about that. It's more about your work as an artist, stretching yourself and growing, making it part of your legacy.
The first joke in The Back-up Plan is a closeup of Zoe's grody feet. Please tell me those were stunt toes.
Stunt toes? (laughs) You're an idiot. Nope, those are my toes! I could've gotten model toes. I could've but it wouldn't get the laugh: "Ewww, look at those messed-up toes!" (laughs) You're crazy.
How's the next album, Love?, coming along?
I'm almost done. I've been working on it for about eight months and recently moved to another record company. We're trying to get it out this summer but I still have to finish it up. Right now I'm promoting this movie, going back to New York then L.A. then Europe. So, when I get back from that whirlwind I'll be working on it full time.
Are you going to make a guest appearance on Glee, as rumored?
I've spoken to (series creator) Ryan Murphy and we really hit it off. It won't be this season because their plot lines are all written out. It'll probably be in their next run. But for sure it's something we'd like to do. We talked in depth about it. It would be a lot of fun. We'll see, we'll see.
Steve Persall can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at blogs.tampabay.com/movies.