J.Lo, Co-Stars Share Love Lessons

Sept. 22, 2004 -- Nearly a year after her much-discussed romance with actor Ben Affleck ended, and just months after her reported marriage to fellow songbird Marc Anthony, singer-actress Jennifer Lopez says she's much happier now.

"I guess in a lot of ways, a lot of different ways," she told ABC News' Diane Sawyer in an interview airing on Primetime. "That's how I feel now, like things are clearer than before. And I can relax a little bit. I can slouch my shoulders and be myself a little bit more."

Watch Diane Sawyer's exclusive interview on Thursday night, at 10 p.m. E.T.

Lopez spoke ahead of the Oct .15 release of her next film, Shall We Dance?, a romantic comedy about the lengths to which people will go to maintain passion in a relationship.

In an exclusive interview with Sawyer, Lopez and co-stars Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon reflected on what they have learned over the years about romance, love and marriage — as well as other life lessons.

Learning Process

Lopez's reported marriage to Anthony is her third. She admits that she's not an expert. "You learn things as you go … I'm figuring it out for myself as I go along," she told Sawyer.

But one thing she's learned about the institution is that it only becomes real when it's tested.

"Both people have to really want to be there, you know, and they both have to make that choice. And it's a compromise, and it's how you treat each other when you're hurt. I think that's the most important thing," she said.

"It's all great when everything's fun and great and lovely and everything. But I think in the hard times is when a marriage becomes a marriage or it just falls apart."

Before her reported June marriage to Anthony, Lopez had a two-year relationship with actor Ben Affleck.

They had planned to get married last September, but called off the nuptials "due to the excessive media attention," and separated a few weeks later.

Lopez told Sawyer she's surprised how happy she is now. "There's always a part of you that doesn't believe everything once you've been through a lot," she said.

‘Saying Yes to Life’

In Shall We Dance?, based on a 1996 Japanese film, Lopez plays a dance teacher who inspires a workaholic lawyer played by Gere — a celebrity whose love life is not unfamiliar to the tabloids either.

The actor was formerly married to supermodel Cindy Crawford, and is now married to actress Carey Lowell. He had his own ideas about what makes a successful marriage:

"The idea that you're completing someone else in a marriage to me is death. That to me is a false start," he said. "And most of us are usually taught that … you've got to stand on your own. Then you can build something extraordinary."

Sarandon, who plays Gere's wife in the film, is in one of the most famously stable relationships in Hollywood. She has been with fellow actor Tim Robbins ever since they met on the set of the 1988 film Bull Durham.

The Oscar-winning actress is in her late 50s, and continues to be hailed for her sex appeal. "I think what makes a person sexy at any age is that they seem like they're saying yes to life, however that manifests itself," she told Sawyer.

Asked what she thought was the most romantic dance, Sarandon replied that it would be "somewhere intimate and quiet."

However, she added that it would also be romantic to have "a celebratory dance at 85 somewhere, with all the people that you love still kicking and still be able to recognize the person you're dancing with."