By Jesus Trivino and Shirley Velasquez
In The Boy Next Door — an erotic thriller about a one-night stand gone terribly wrong — Jennifer Lopez and Ryan Guzman get hot and heavy. We go behind the scenes to find out what makes for great chemistry on-screen and off.
Ryan Guzman’s shirt is open. His abs appear golden, even heaven-sent, in the brilliant afternoon light that bathes the Hollywood Hills. For someone shooting his first Latina cover, the 27-year-old Mexican American actor appears at ease — no jitters, just chill. It helps that his partner-in-style is Jennifer Lopez, his costar in the The Boy Next Door, set for release in early 2015. The iconic boricua superstar, who has graced the cover of Latina numerous times in the magazine’s history, takes total control of the shoot and the day. “There’s too much rock in the background,” she says with authority, looking over the photographer’s test shots. With absolute confidence, she steps into a backless tiered Thomas Wylde dress that could’ve been plucked directly from a runway. Guzman wears a tuxedo better than James Bond. “She’s ready for you,” a Lopez handler tells him. “And I’m ready for her,” Guzman replies without missing a beat, betraying his playful California upbringing.
WATCH THE BEHIND-THE-SCENES VIDEO FROM THE SHOOT!
Standing together in an intricately designed Spanish-style courtyard, Lopez leans her work-of-art body into Guzman’s equally desirable frame. It’s sensuality incarnate, a reprise of their intense, violent connection in the film. Think Fatal Attraction for a millennial audience. Lopez portrays Claire Peterson, a high school teacher who has a one-night stand with her younger neighbor, Noah Sandborn (Guzman). She immediately regrets her moment of weakness, and he goes batshit crazy. It’s the type of complex role that will turn Guzman into a household name, and Lopez can sense it. “There was something about him that was boyish but manly at the same time — innocent, but [able to] go dark, and that was sexy,” Lopez says.
In real life, the actors met when Lopez held a table read at her L.A. home. “My manager told me that Jennifer Lopez wanted me to read for this film,” Guzman remembers. “I thought, of course, he was joking. So I said, ‘Screw you! This isn’t real!’” Even after reading with many other actors, Lopez remembered Guzman. “This is not an easy role, to go from the likable boy next door to what he winds up turning into. It’s really challenging, even for the most experienced actor,” she says.
Guzman appreciates the opportunity. “Working with Jennifer is definitely going to be one of those things where I look back and know: ‘That’s where I found my start, where I started to show growth as an actor.’” No question, 2015 is shaping up as a pivotal year for the Step Up alum, with major roles in three other films, including as Rio in Jem and the Holograms.
Back at the shoot, Drake’s album, Nothing Was The Same, plays continuously. Lopez and Guzman, both of whom are deft dancers, can’t resist moving to the beat like a couple of old friends at a house party. Everyone else follows suit. And when she stops, so does everyone else.
Time has done little to diminish Lopez’s star power. At 45, her unique place in the pop-culture pantheon is unchallenged. By now the world knows the story of how the middle daughter of Puerto Rican parents got her big start as a Fly Girl on Fox’s In Living Color and then cemented her acting chops in her breakout performance in Selena. Then there are the foil-for-tabloid relationships: Sean Combs, Ben Affleck, Marc Anthony and Casper Smart, all of which led to heartbreak and redemption. In late 2014, Lopez surprised fans by offering a glimpse into her private life — posting personal photos on Instagram and publishing True Love, her confessional memoir that made The New York Times's best-seller list. We even got a look at her famed derrière in the music video “Booty.” More ambitiously, as a producer, she’s evolving into Hollywood’s latest star-maker — and Guzman is her boy in waiting. Posing at the photo shoot, their excitement for The Boy Next Door and passion for life permeates the set.
Keep reading on page 2 to see what Jennifer and Ryan said about tackling their roles in the film...