Cris Judd gets ready for his TV close-up

Wed Feb 19, 8:44 AM ET
Kelly Carter USA TODAY

HOLLYWOOD -- Cris Judd is best known as the man who was married to Jennifer Lopez for seven months. But that could change with tonight's premiere of ABC's I'm a Celebrity -- Get Me Out of Here!

He's one of 10 celebrities leaving behind their pampered lives to live off of rice, beans and water under primitive conditions in the Australian rain forest to win money for their favorite charities (and, maybe, get a career boost).

''You watch these reality shows and say, 'Oh, I would do that, except for eating all the gross stuff,' '' says Judd as he sips a vanilla latte with soymilk at a coffeehouse on Sunset Boulevard. ''These reality shows are like everyone's little guilty pleasure. To have an opportunity to be on one, why not? Anybody who says 'No, I don't want to be on one' is kind of lying in the back of their heads.''

And when you want to get into acting, as Judd does, it could be great exposure. Up till now, his airtime has been limited to coverage of his marital status. The choreographer met J. Lo while working on her Love Don't Cost a Thing video in late 2000. By June 2002, they had gotten engaged, gotten married and split up. They last spoke around the time their divorce became final on Jan. 26.

''I still love Jennifer, and I'll always love her,'' says Judd, 33. ''There's no animosity toward her whatsoever. I just wish her the best. If she's happy, then I'm happy.''

While J. Lo has moved on to fiancee Ben Affleck, Judd, who lives in L.A. with his 2-year-old chocolate Lab, Buster, hasn't entered the dating arena again.

''I'm not in that place to try and even date anybody right now; I'm still struggling through (the breakup) and trying to day-by-day cope with it,'' he says. ''It's all good. We're still friends. We never fought.''

He says the marriage just wasn't meant to be. ''You just have to take your bounces and get up when you get knocked down and move on.''

For now, he's concentrating on his career. Besides Get Me Out of Here, he's choreographing (he did Jennifer Love Hewitt's halftime show this month at the NFL's Pro Bowl in Hawaii) and touring the country giving dance lessons with partner Eddie Garcia. He also has begun directing videos. In March, he makes his TV acting debut as a self-defense instructor on UPN's Half & Half.

He says he's too busy to worry about women, but ''I want to love again. I want to have the fairy-tale life with a wife and three or four kids. It will come.''