Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony star in El Cantante, which opens today.


It’s a lesson that many couples learn the hard way — working with your spouse can pose problems for a relationship.

Other times, personal and professional lives mesh seamlessly, as in the case of power couple Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez, who married in 2004.

Now the two co-star in El Cantante, with Anthony playing Hector Lavoe, the godfather of New York salsa music in the ’70s and ’80s, and Lopez alongside as his wife Puchi. The film traces the couple’s tumultuous relationship and Lavoe’s struggle with drug addiction and depression as he rose to prominence in the Latin music scene.

Working together is one thing — maintaining balance on a notably tense set is another, as Lopez explains in a recent interview in her native New York City.

“While we were shooting one of the scenes when she (Puchi) sees that (Hector’s) been getting high in the house and the son is there ... I decided that I was literally going to go after Marc in one part of the scene,” she says.

“So I start pushing him and pushing him and he’s not expecting it ... All of a sudden we get into it and he says, ‘Jennifer!’ I’m calling him Hector and he’s calling me Jennifer. The whole set just breaks up because it was so intense and they’re like, ‘You guys get into fights like this at home?’”

While both actors laugh off the incident, Anthony was shocked his wife was capable of such tirades. “It was scary that that was a possibility,” he says. “It was something that I could hold over her head: ‘Oh, I see Puchi coming through now.’”

El Cantante not only represents Lopez’s first foray into producing, but also the realization of a dream for both performers.

Anthony, who had grown up with Lavoe’s music and was a devoted fan, relished the chance to pay homage to one of his musical heroes. For Lopez, the completion of the project capped off five years of development and fundraising to get the film into theatres, and signalled yet another chapter in the expansion of her personal empire, which includes acting, singing, and fashion and accessory design.

But when she stepped on the El Cantante set, Lopez insisted director Leon Ichaso treat her like anyone else.

“I knew the role was very challenging and I knew I would have to concentrate on that,” she says.

  • El Cantante opens in theatres today.

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