“She’s smart to go for broke now”: Jennifer Lopez Killed Her Shot at the Oscars by Turning Down an Iconic Role That Was Later Played by Salma Hayek

Jennifer Lopez Killed Her Shot at the Oscars by Turning Down an Iconic Role That Was Later Played by Salma Hayek
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Jennifer Lopez was once attached to a biographical pursuit about a renowned Mexican painter whose tortured, pained life yet courageous disposition had become fodder for Tinseltown endeavors a few decades ago.


Where there was once a time when a Frida Kahlo-related project didn’t interest anyone, soon came an astounding moment in cinematic history when multiple undertakings based on the artist’s life were beginning to create headlines.

Why did Jennifer Lopez turn down the Frida Kahlo biopic?
Why did Jennifer Lopez turn down the Frida Kahlo biopic?

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Ultimately, of course, only one iteration would emerge triumphant—Salma Hayek’s Frida (2002), produced by Miramax. Initially, Lopez was slated to star in filmmaker Luis Valdez’s take on a biopic about the great painter. However, news about the singer-actress pulling out of the venture surfaced in 2001. Many people were perplexed as to why.

Then came several theories. Industry insiders speculated about the most likely causes of her rejection. Wonder what they might have been? Let’s have a look.

Why Luis Valdez’ The Two Fridas Never Came To Be

Director-screenwriter Luis Valdez
Director-screenwriter Luis Valdez

Luis Valdez’s The Two Fridas never came to be. Valdez had been attempting to launch his project since 1991, but his efforts were met with protests after a casting controversy. The deal at New Line Cinema proved unsuccessful.


With Salma Hayek developing her iteration of a Frida Kahlo biopic, the director’s later attempts at reviving his project were thwarted. The two parties were entangled in a race. And the one to emerge victorious was Hayek, who had felt passionately about her project and was willing to go to any length to have it come to fruition. In an interview with Yahoo! Entertainment, the 83-year-old director admitted the following:

“We almost got it done. I was in a race with Salma Hayek, but she beat us. She got it done. And congratulations. I love the film, and I love her work, and that’s fine, as far as I’m concerned.”

Salma Hayek
Salma Hayek in Frida (2002)

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It all boiled down to fate and luck. Hayek and Miramax began production on Frida in the spring of 2001, outpacing Valdez. Ultimately, it was the Mexican-American actress’ efforts that materialized. Lagging in the competition may have also impacted Lopez’s decision to remain in the endeavor as the leading star. However, industry specialists attributed this rejection to another (hypothesized) factor. One that potentially involved monetary gains.


Why Did Jennifer Lopez Dump The Project?

Jennifer Lopez
Jennifer Lopez

Around the same time as Jennifer Lopez‘s decision to leave the Frida Kahlo biopic emerged in the news, another intriguing headline was making waves. Reports stated that the singer-actress was in the process of negotiations to star in the 2004 film Taking Lives. She was offered the leading role of an FBI profiler, with director Tony Scott attached to the endeavor as its helmer. The Selena alum’s reps had affirmed that she was yet to sign on for the film.

The news emerging around the same time as the singer’s decision to dump The Two Fridas led industry specialists to put on their thinking hats.

According to EW, Jennifer Lopez’s $10 million paycheck to star in Taking Lives may have piqued her interest back then. The outlet claimed that this amount was more than twice The Two Fridas‘ initial budget and the highest salary ever paid to a Latina actress at the time. It must’ve seemed like a golden opportunity.

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Was Jennifer Lopez charmed by a greater payout?

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Robert Bucksbaum of box office tracking agency Reelsource—via EW—emphasized, “She’s smart to go for broke now.” Some others alluded that Lopez had an image to maintain on-screen, which would’ve contrasted the depiction of the renowned artist. People theorized that her fans wouldn’t line up to see her don an unibrow and embody the pain of the eminent figure.

Others theorized whether the Hustlers star was intentionally evading or fleeing the typecasting treatment.


Ultimately, some of these speculations would fail to hit the mark. The singer may have retracted herself from the Frida Kahlo project. However, her involvement in Taking Lives didn’t materialize either. Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke were later signed on to star in the thriller, with D. J. Caruso attached as the helmer. 

The precise cause for Jennifer Lopez’s decision cannot be discerned. Hayek’s triumphant efforts superseding Valdez’s pursuit appear to be the most logical conclusion.

It does make us wonder if the Latin pop culture icon killed her shot at nabbing a potential Oscar victory, as Salma Hayek’s iteration reaped six nominations at the Academy Awards and won two of them.


Frida (2002) is available for streaming on Paramount Plus.

Source: Yahoo! Entertainment and EW


Written by Debdipta Bhattacharya

Articles Published: 659

Debdipta Bhattacharya is a content writer at FandomWire, where she has written more than 500 articles on various topics of interest. She possesses a sincere passion for popular culture, anime, film production, and the evolving world of YouTube and streaming culture which has allowed her to be a devoted and well-informed writer. Debdipta holds a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication. She has honed her skills and expertise in content writing with over two years of experience and strives to learn and grow daily.