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“Crossroads”: Britney Spears Interview

Britney Spears is at a crossroads–literally, in her highly anticipated first film Crossroads, and figuratively, as she attempts to make the often difficult transition from pop star to movie star.

But determination has long been part of the Britney Spears equation, part of what’s made her easily the most talked-about woman on the planet lately, and she wants to make it clear she isn’t planning on only moonlighting in the film world. She’s committed to making it as an actress, even if it means delaying her next round of new music.

Looking simultaneously sweet and seductive in a midriff-baring orange peasant top and blue low-rise hiphuggers, pop’s blonde bombshell sat down with reporters in a plush suite in L.A.’s Four Seasons hotel, eager to talk about Crossroads. In it, she stars as Lucy, a straight-A student who gets her first shot at rebellion by taking a cross-country trip with two friends after high school graduation.

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“I think I’m going to try the acting thing for awhile,” Spears revealed. “It’ll probably be awhile before I make another album.” She hinted that in two years she may be ready to return to the concert stage, but for now her sights are squarely set on appearing in further films.

And when asked who she looks at as a role model, a familiar name comes into play. Spears has long professed her admiration for Madonna as a pop diva, and she also suggests the Material Girl’s movie career–and family life–makes a nice template for her own plans.

“I just love the fact that when she gets on stage she is so amazing…she is one of the best entertainers, I think, of all time,” she enthused. “I just love the way she controls an audience. And the fact that she’s been able to do it all. I respect that, that she’s been able to do movies and also have a beautiful kid. I respect that a lot…I’m not going to follow in her footsteps completely but it’s definitely an inspiration for me.”

Indeed, Spears even includes a tribute to Madonna in the opening sequence of her film, dancing and gyrating playfully in her bedroom–in a pair of teeny, tiny boy briefs– to the singer’s ’80s hit “Open Your Heart to Me.” ” I wanted it to be me jumping around and playin’ around,” Spears said. “Honestly, that song is one of my all-time favorite songs, and when they asked me what song I wanted to do I said let’s do this one, ’cause it’s just lighthearted and fun.”

And while the scene will definitely play well to most of Britney’s male fans, she insists such antics aren’t just fluffy fantasy. “It’s real. All girls wake up in the morning–I per-


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sonally sleep in a T-shirt–[Lucy] had her little guy briefs on and she’s just chillin’, singing. I think that’s what we do…That’s what I do.”

Another trick Spears may have borrowed from her idol is carefully controlling her image and her projects. In the case of Crossroads, she brought the basic idea to director Tamara Davis and screenwriter Shondra Rhimes. “I had a lot of input to deal with their characters and what each one was goin’ through. But the whole story line, as far as why Lucy was going [cross-country] …the writer came in and helped me elaborate on that a little bit,” sge said. “So it was actually like a combined effort between both of us. I came up with the general idea but the whole story and all the little details and stuff the writer helped me with.”

Spears drew from her own personal experience for inspiration; although still close to her own childhood friends in real life, in Crossroads, her character has drifted away from her friends. Their road trip to Los Angeles reconnects them again. “I think your true friends are the ones you can be away for, like, six months but then when you see ’em again it’s like ‘Hey, what’s up?’ and have on the same outfit she has on. You just have that connection with your true friends,” she said.

“I’ve been really, really blessed with my friendships that I have right now. I have three girlfriends–that’s kind of what inspired me to even do the movie–I still have my girlfriends that I grew up with. We went to day care together…we just feel comfortable with each other. We’re honest, we’re total goofs….,” Spears continues. “Honestly, I thought everyone had that, I really did, until I’ve seen [otherwise]. I wanted girls to go out and see the movie and be inspired by that and to want that.”

There are, though, moments in the film that may have some parents wondering if the pop princess is a perfect role model for the young girls who adore her. Spears addressed the fact the condoms fail to make an appearance in the film in the otherwise tasteful, non-explicit scene in which Lucy appears to lose her virginity.

“I think [the scene] leave it to the people’s imaginations that she was responsible enough and hopefully did [use a condom],” she says. “Actually…after I talk to Dan Aykroyd [who plays her father in the film] at the very beginning of the movie there was scene where I actually open a box of condoms that [the producers] took out because the movie was too long. So that was our attempt.”

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There are also muted moments involving teen pregnancy, drinking and even date rape. “As far as [Taryn Manning‘s character] being pregnant, I think that’s real. That goes on every day, and I think that teenagers do make mistakes. I think it’s cool that teenagers can go and watch that and say they’re not alone and to know that they have their friends to talk to.”

When asked what her biggest mistake as a teenager was, she grimaced. “I don’t want to say my biggest mistake–I don’t want to tell the whole world that,” she said. “Trust me, I’ve made plenty. But I don’t regret them because they’ve made me the person that I am right now.”

Putting such deep issues aside, Spears became more animated when talking about the differences between being on stage and on-set. “It’s really different. I was so used to being on stage and getting that instant reaction,” she said. “When you’re on camera, there’s so much hurry-up-to-wait and you’re just waitin’ around. You’re like, ‘OK, I’ve gotta


get into character now.’ But also it’s cool because if you mess up you can do it over again. I found that fascinating because you could do one line so many different ways. They’re two totally different things.”

And while the film’s story did come from some of Spears‘ own experiences and feelings, she was also called upon to act. Playing the part of the high school valedictorian from a broken home was not exactly familiar territory. “I wasn’t the valedictorian,” she admits. “I was honor roll–I guess As and Bs. I played basketball, I was the point guard on my basketball team. Um, I wasn’t the most popular girl in school. I just hung out…I loved English, I loved reading a lot. I loved biology, I thought that was cool.” Today, most of her male fans find her own biology a source of endless interest.

But the filmmakers also decided to stack the deck a bit in their favor by allowing Spears’ character to have a musical side. “At the very beginning of making this film I didn’t know if I wanted to have singing in it. And then…we decided it would spice it up a little bit, to have a performance.” The songs “Overprotected” and “Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” were developed specifically for the film, and the scene in which she sits down at the piano and hears the latter song for the first time was literally her initial introduction to the finished version.

She remains cool on the topic of other pop stars’ bids for box office bonanzas–for every Will Smith, there is a Mariah Carey. “I don’t know how my movie’s going to do. I’ll just see how it does, and if it is a big flop then I’ll know what not to do next time.”

And there will be a next time, if she has her way. “I’d love to do another movie. Actually there’s a script I’m reading right now that absolutely in love with–but I don’t have the part. So I’m gonna see what I can do. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”

In the meantime, she’s happy with her current place in the pop pantheon and very aware of just how lucky, to borrow from one of her songs, she is to have so much attention focused on her. “I think it’s very flattering,” she said, slipping into a little girl voice that sounds both shy and a little embarrassed. “Honestly, this is my dream come true. I can’t believe this is happening right now. I can’t believe I even have a movie. So I feel very blessed to be where I am right now.”

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