The girl who played the adorable Gertie Trinké shares never-before-told stories of her time on set with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez.
And while she's gone on to compete on "The Voice" under the guidance of powerhouse vocalist Christina Aguilera, and sing the sultry theme song of Netflix's highly anticipated "Carmen Sandiego" reboot, Raquel still thinks her "Jersey Girl" days are some of the best she's ever had.
"I'll never forget that time of my life," she told TooFab during a recent interview. "Honestly, I wish I could go back to 7-to-9-year-old Raquel because she was so cool."
Raquel, now 22, told us the "Jersey Girl" cast and crew were every bit as welcoming and protective as she (and her mother) had hoped. At Halloween time, she got to dress up and trick-or-treat around set. "Everyone had candy in their trailers," she recalled.
When the film wrapped, everyone exchanged gifts. "[Ben] had a dog, and I got him [a book called], 'Dobermanns for Dummies,'" she said. "Liv [Tyler] got me a Tiffany's necklace. And I remember Jennifer Lopez actually sent me a bunch of her clothes from her kids' clothing line. That was so cool. I wish I could still fit into that stuff."
"Bennifer" was born in 2002, when the couple met on the set of rom-com "Gigli." By November of that year, they were engaged. They later co-starred in "Jersey Girl," where J.Lo played Ben's wife and Raquel's mother.
"Jennifer would always come on set, even when she wasn't filming, just to support Ben," Raquel told us. "I remember kind of playing dumb a little bit because I was so young. So like kissing and dating and stuff was weird to me. I think they were actually engaged at that point! And I remember Ben was telling me how he's gonna be marrying Jennifer, and I remember seeing them make out. I remember one time, we were in Central Park. We were filming a scene and they were kissing, and a paparazzo got a really big picture of them and it was the cover of Newsday."
Ben broke off their engagement before the film wrapped, however, which Raquel said prompted a change in the very last scene.
"She was supposed to be at the end of the movie with me," Raquel revealed. "There was a scene where you see my hands and you see Jennifer Lopez's hands as like an angel, and Ben Affleck's on the side like picturing me meeting my mother for the first time, and then when everything happened, they took that scene out, unfortunately."
"They were a great, great couple. They were a beautiful couple," she added. "I think this industry can take a toll, not only on you personally, but on the relationships that you have. And that's super unfortunate. And I think that was a big thing. They were just two insanely successful people; she was this pop star/actress, and he was this really, really serious actor, and I think just the press and the media really did take a toll on their relationship."
As for Raquel's favorite memories with Ben -- they actually sound like any parent's dream!
"I just remember always yelling at him for cursing and smoking cigarettes!" she said with a laugh. "I was like this little Puerto Rican-Italian, 4-foot mother on set. I used to tell [director] Kevin Smith, 'I'm gonna get chemical dependency!' because I was learning that in school from D.A.R.E."
Looking directly into the camera as she waved her finger, Raquel said, "Sorry, Ben, but still not good for you!"
Just as our sit-down was wrapping, Raquel blurted out that she had one more story. It had to do with "Jenny from the Block." We were all ears.
"Jennifer sang 'Jenny from the Block' for me before it came out!" she said excitedly. "At the end of 'Jersey Girl,' there's a scene where we're in this little dive bar. I don't know why a 7-year-old was in a dive bar with them, but in between takes, Jennifer said, 'Hey, do you wanna listen to my new song? We're releasing it [soon].'"
"So she brought me into the bathroom, and she started singing it for me," Raquel gushed. "She taught me how to dance, too!"
See the go-to move Jenny from the Block taught Raquel in the video above, and revisit Ben's cameo in Jen's music video below.