“You’re No Longer Britney Spears”: How ‘Crossroads’ Captured the Girl Beyond the Pop Star

Kim Cattrall is so delicious as Britney’s mother in the film. But is it true that Madonna was floated for that role?

It’s probably internet lore. We talked about who we love. We love Britney, and I love Madonna. So to open the film with her dancing in her bedroom [to Madonna’s “Open Your Heart”], and just the celebration of girl culture, that’s what we do—we close our bedroom door, we play around. I love that. To me, it’s my female gaze saying, this is what girls are like. I love that. And of course, Britney was super into that.

With Kim Cattrall, we all loved Sex and the City. That’s legendary. So we asked Kim if she could be in the film, but it was also a real risk for her. And I think that’s also what Kim liked, is she’s not playing a good character. It’s super harsh. You’re playing a mom who rejects somebody, and it’s really intense. So I really liked the bravery that she had to do a role like that. Not all mothers are…Sometimes you don’t want your past to come back to you, and it’s threatening.

Another thing I was struck by is that the film’s main twist is identical to the one at the center of Big Little Lies season one. Has anyone ever brought that up to you?

No! Maybe [Big Little Lies] author Liane Moriarty is a Crossroads fan [laughs]. But that’s freaking Shonda Rhimes, she’s brilliant. Look at her career afterwards. She is incredible. I was so struck when I watched it, about how you start to unfold these secrets that these girls hold. But that takes time. It doesn’t just happen immediately. So by the end of the film, how the friendship really builds and comes back together, I just was really impressed with that. That’s Shonda showing us her complexity of female characters and that it takes time to unfold.

And you had to fight for the scene where Lucy loses her virginity to Ben, right?

Me and Sherry Lansing [then Paramount chairman], we did a screening, she said, “I have a suggestion. Let’s look at the movie if we take out that scene.” And I was like, 
What? The whole reason Britney made this movie is because of that scene.” And it’s done so tastefully that if you’re a child, you almost have no idea what’s going on. I did it super choreographed. I knew that I would have backup from Britney, everybody would back me up. I fought for that scene. It would’ve been so silly to take it out. We screened the film with the female audience after [our conversation] with that scene. And my scores were so high that Sherry let me keep it in.

As fun as the film is, there’s also a sadness in knowing what Britney would experience in the years after. In the past, you believed that Britney’s conservatorship prevented the two of you from reconnecting in a real way. Now that it’s over, have you been in contact?

No. We’ve been in contact with her new manager, and I think she knows that I’m there for her. I totally respect however she wants to communicate. I knew that she couldn’t speak because of the SAG contract, but I just wanted to let her know that no matter what happened, I would be next to her so she wouldn’t have to do anything alone. And even knowing that she trusts me to go out and speak…I’d love to talk to her whenever she’s ready. But I totally respect wherever she is right now, and love her dearly.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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