Ralph Fiennes reveals he was J.Lo and Ben Affleck's 'relationship decoy'

'I was set up'

jennifer lopez and ralph fiennes
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Harry Potter star Ralph Fiennes may have played Jennifer Lopez’s onscreen lover in Maid in Manhattan, but it turns out he was tricked into playing her real life romantic partner as well. Back in the early 2000s before her relationship with Ben Affleck was officially confirmed, he claimed he had been “set up” after heading for a dinner with the singer and her team. 

Ralph joined host Andy Cohen for an episode of Watch What Happens Live! recently, where he was asked by fans of the show, “What was your reaction when you first heard J.Lo and Ben Affleck were back together, especially as you were a decoy for the relationship for the first time around?”

Cohen appeared surprised by the question, turning to Ralph to ask if he was really a Bennifer “decoy." Ralph nodded, explaining, “I was. I was. I was set up.”

At the time, speculation about Lopez’s love life was at an all time high as she was in the process of splitting from her ex-husband Cris Judd. In 2002, she and Ralph were filming the romantic comedy Maid in Manhattan as she had started to quietly date her Gigli co-star Ben Affleck.

Ralph explained how the “set up” went down, as he went for dinner with J.Lo and her team at Cipriani’s: a swanky Italian restaurant loved by celebrities. He said, “We had a nice dinner - chatty, chatty chatty - and I went to my car. Actually I think I was walking home.”

“[I gave her a] peck on the cheek. A paparazzi - one - pops up just as we did it, the goodnight chaste kiss,” he said, miming the photographer taking photographs as they said goodbye to one another.

jlo in maid in manhattan

Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes on the set of 'Maid in Manhattan' in 2002

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“But somehow, the pictures were angled so she’s walking away and I’m walking after her. And I think it said the next day on The Post, it said, ‘It’s Ralph! We know who it is!’” he continued. 

Whether Ralph was in on the plan or not, the paparazzi weren’t thrown off the scent for long. Lopez and Affleck’s relationship would dominate the entertainment news cycle that year. Bennifer would later announce they were engaged in November 2002, before calling it all off in 2004. Following years of engagements, marriages and divorces to other people, the pair eventually found their way back to one another in 2021 and were married this summer

Although Ralph wasn’t a decoy this time around for the pair, he had nothing but well wishes for the pair. After hearing they had reconnected, he said, “My reaction was ‘good luck to them.’

Megan C. Hills

Megan is a freelance journalist who covers entertainment and all things lifestyle, with a particular passion for fashion, beauty, travel and Keanu Reeves stories. She has previously worked on staff for titles including Marie Claire UK, CNN Style and The Evening Standard and has written for titles such as Bustle UK, Wallpaper*, Forbes and Hong Kong Tatler. She splits her time between London and her hometown Hong Kong, where she currently lives with the love of her life - an elderly dog named Poppy - and her husband.