As Britney Spears’ ‘Crossroads’ returns to theaters, director says, “It’s not just her story. It’s a women’s story”

Zoe Saldaña, Britney Spears & Taryn Manning in ‘Crossroads’/Filmco Enterprises, Inc. 2001

Britney Spears‘ 2002 film Crossroads returns to theaters on October 23 to coincide with the October 24 release of her memoir, The Woman in Me. Britney writes that filming Crossroads wasn’t easy because she wasn’t able to separate herself from her character, so much so that she “became this other person.”

Speaking to ABC Audio, Crossroads director Tamra Davis says she wishes Britney had had a community of other actors at the time she could have spoken to about that struggle. 

“I’m sad that she might have had some kind of emotional struggles through that,” Davis says. “But, I mean, that’s a common actor thing to happen.”

Davis notes that she did work “really, really hard” to make sure Britney delivered a convincing performance as Lucy, a high school valedictorian escaping her overprotective father.

“She couldn’t be Britney. Britney had to go away for her to be Lucy,” she says. “Every word had to be real and true and authentic … she had to become that character for it to be real.”

Davis says she hopes the new screening will allow Crossroads, written by Shonda Rhimes, to be reevaluated as an important film for women and girls. Back in 2002, she expected male critics to savage it — and they did.

“I just rewatched it again myself and oh my God, I got so mad,” she says. “I was like, ‘Who are you to criticize girl culture? … This is girls making movies for girls, by girls.” 

Given what we now know about Britney, Davis says fans should resist the temptation to read Crossroads — with a plot that includes unfaithful boyfriends, overprotective parents and a pregnancy loss — as a reflection of Britney’s struggles at the time.

“That was what we all go through. We all as women have to deal with all of those things. And Shonda wrote a story about that,” Davis notes. “And so I feel like it’s not just her story. It’s a women’s story.”

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