Ralph Fiennes Reveals He Was Jennifer Lopez & Ben Affleck’s ‘Relationship Decoy’ In The 2000s

From 'Maid In Manhattan' co-star on-screen to an off-screen decoy: Ralph Fiennes spilled on how he accidentally helped Bennifer before they were public.

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Image Credit: Everett Collection

Ralph Fiennes confessed he was once a “relationship decoy” for his former Maid In Manhattan co-star Jennifer Lopez, 53, and her beau Ben Affleck, 50 — but had no idea he was part of a plot. “I was set up,” the 59 year old actor explained on Watch What Happens Live to host Andy Cohen on Tuesday, November 15, referencing old photos of the two hugging in June 2002. “I was asked out to dinner with J. Lo and her manager and her agent … We had a nice dinner, chatty chatty chatty. … [after], I think I was walking home, but [we gave each other a] peck on the cheek goodnight,” he explained.

That same month, Jennifer filed for divorce from second husband Cris Judd and had worked on film Gigli with Ben, where they initially met and fell in love. At the time, Jennifer was still married and they kept things friendly — however, there was suspicion the now-married couple had crossed the friend line. In April 2002 — just weeks before Jennifer was photographed with Ralph — Ben had taken out a full page advertisement to compliment working with her. “It has been nothing but an honor and a pleasure to work with you,…I only wish I were lucky enough to be in all your movies,” Ben wrote, adding, “With love, respect, and gratitude, Ben Affleck.”

Jennifer and Ralph are seen in character from ‘Maid In Manhattan.’ (Everett Collection)

After the June 2002 dinner, Ralph was caught off guard when a single paparazzi “popped out” and was able to snap friendly goodbye. “But somehow, the pictures were angled so that as she’s walking away, [it looks like] I’m walking after her. And I think it said the next day [in the New York] Post, ‘It’s Ralph!’” he also said to Andy. Notably, the “If You Had My Love” singer and The Grand Budapest Hotel actors played on-screen love interests in romantic comedy Maid In Manhattan.

Against all odds, the characters fell in love in ‘Maid In Manhattan’. (Everett Collection)

Ben and Jennifer finally took their relationship public in July 2002, with Ben later appearing in her video for “Jenny From The Block” that dropped months later in September. By November 2002, the duo had earned the nickname “Bennifer” and were engaged with that Harry Winston pink diamond. Due to the stress of paparazzi and media attention, the pair called off their initial Sept. 2003 wedding and broke up for good by Jan. 2004. Ben and J.Lo shocked the world, however, when they got back together in April 2021 and married legally in July 2022.

“My reaction [when I learned they got back together] was, ‘Good luck to them,’” Ralph — who starred as Voldemort in the Harry Potter movies — noted.

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