Ben Affleck doesn't have fond memories of how then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez was treated in the past.
The actor appears on The Hollywood Reporter's latest Awards Chatter podcast episode to talk about his movie The Way Back. In the wide-ranging conversation, Affleck, 48, also opened up about the attention to his relationship and eventual engagement to Lopez, 51, and how much of it was negative towards the actress and singer.
"People were so f---- 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 during the 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----- should be! I would say you have a better shot, coming from the Bronx, of ending up as like [Justice Sonia] Sotomayor on the Supreme Court than you do of having Jennifer Lopez's career and being who she is at 50 years old today."
Added Affleck: "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. Still, to this day, [some] will go, 'I see you out there in the paparazzi and the pictures!' It's like, 'Yes, I left my house and took out the trash. It's not like I'm trying to—' And it's still like, 'You were taking a pap walk!' As if, if you leave your house, you're only doing so in the hope that you could be so lucky that you could end up as the sixth item in The Daily Mail. It's absurd!"
After celebrating their relationship in her "Jenny from the Block" music video, Lopez and Affleck got engaged in 2002, postponed their 2003 wedding days before they were set to walk down the aisle, then officially split by January 2004.
They also starred in Jersey Girl and the critically-panned Gigli together during their time together.
In 2018, Lopez herself compared the scrutiny of her relationship with Affleck to her current engagement to baseball legend Alex Rodriguez.
"It was actually worse then," Lopez told InStyle of the frenzy surrounding "Bennifer."
"It was just crazy," Lopez added of the media circus. "Now at least I can show you who I am a little bit. Back then you just believed anything you read on the cover of a tabloid. Many times it wasn't true, or it was like a third of the truth."
The entertainer conceded that with the pressures of social media, it's difficult to be a celebrity in 2018 — "but they didn't live through the tabloid era," she said.
In fact, Lopez believed social media has actually strengthened her relationship with Rodriguez, which PEOPLE confirmed in March 2017.
"Now people get to see that this guy they thought was this hard-nosed athlete is, like, a goofy dad who loves his kids and celebrates his girlfriend," she said of their romance, which they've documented online.