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Ben Affleck talks intense tabloid coverage of romance with Jennifer Lopez

"You know, there's always a story of the month, and me dating Jennifer Lopez happened to be that tabloid story at the time when that business grew exponentially."
/ Source: TODAY

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez's relationship was covered intensely by tabloids when the couple began dating in 2002, but Affleck said his ex-fiancée was also targeted with racist and sexist comments.

Lopez, 51, is now one of the most famous and celebrated women in the world, but Affleck, 48, recalled how poorly she was treated as her career was continuing to take off.

"People were so f---ing mean about her — sexist, racist. Ugly, vicious s--- was written about her in ways that if you wrote it now, you would literally be fired for saying those things you said," Affleck said on the Jan. 14 episode of The Hollywood Reporter's "Awards Chatter" podcast. “Now it’s like she’s lionized and respected for the work she did, where she came from, what she accomplished — as well she f---ing should be!”

“I would say you have a better chance —from the Bronx — of ending up as like Sotomayor on the Supreme Court than you do of having Jennifer Lopez’s career," he added.

Affleck and Lopez attended the premiere of "Daredevil" at the Village Theatre on Feb. 9, 2003 in Los Angeles. Kevin Winter / Getty Images

The former Hollywood power couple, who were known as "Bennifer" in the tabloids, began dating in 2002. During that time, they worked together on two notorious box office bombs, "Gigli" and "Jersey Girl."

They got engaged in November 2002 and split in January 2004. While they've both since moved on to other romances and have had their own children, Affleck said they are still friends.

"You know, there's always a story of the month, and me dating Jennifer Lopez happened to be that tabloid story at the time when that business grew exponentially," Affleck said.

Last year, he praised Lopez and told the New York Times Lopez should've been nominated for an Academy Award for her critically acclaimed performance in "Hustlers."

"She’s the real thing," he said.