You remember Crossroads, right?
The movie, released on Feb. 15, 2002, starred Britney Spears as a high school graduate named Lucy. The sweet, naïve brainiac with pop star dreams was—you guessed it!—at a crossroads in her life. Not yet a girl, not yet a woman, she and two childhood friends, played by Taryn Manning and Zoe Saldana, reunited for a cross-country road trip after previously going their separate ways. The comedy, co-starring Dan Aykroyd, Kim Cattrall, Justin Long, and Anson Mount, earned $61.1 million on a $10 million budget. Crossroads also gave Shonda Rhimes her first major screenwriting credit.
To celebrate the number of women involved in its production (and to find out how the film was made), Broadly interviewed Rhimes, producer Ann Carli and others last year.
More than 14 years ago, Carli left Spears' label, Jive Records, to begin a new career in film. She came across a spec script written by Rhimes, a then-unknown screenwriter who had worked mostly in TV. They pitched the idea for Crossroads to Spears, her mom and her manager, Larry Rudolph. Once they got the green light (and $10 million from Jive founder Clive Calder), they got to work.
Here are 7 little-known facts about the making of Crossroads and its legacy:
1. MTV had already been developing a project for Spears.
After Davis was attached to direct Crossroads, Carli and Jive Records brought it to MTV Films executive David Gale, who later signed on as the film's executive producer. Gale's team had already been working on a musical update of Alice in Wonderland that would both star Spears and feature other hot pop acts, including 'N Sync (and her then-boyfriend, Justin Timberlake).
2. Rhimes wanted to show a different side of Spears.
"I was much more interested in the young woman that I met than the image that people had of her. She was a person, and I don't think anyone at the time was looking at her—because it's such a misogynistic society—as a person," Rhimes said of Spears, who had at that time released two No. 1 albums (...Baby One More Time and Oops!...I Did It Again) and was recording a third CD. "The idea that we could portray her as a three-dimensional young woman was interesting to me. To have mean-girled her and turned her into a caricature would have been a mistake."
3. Robert De Niro convinced Anson Mount to do the movie.
Then a relative unknown, Mount was initially reluctant to play Spears' love interest. But De Niro, his co-star in City by the Sea, managed to persuade him to join the cast. In fact, De Niro was such a fan of Spears that he even ran lines with Mount on set, reading the pop star's part.
4. Spears was anything but a diva on set.
Before filming began, director Tamra Davis says, "I knocked on her hotel room door, and she opened it up, and she was wearing, like, a little pink T-shirt and little shorts, and she was just hilarious. She opened the door and she was like, 'Man, I was hammered last night!' I was like, 'What! You're Britney Spears, and you were hammered last night?' She was, like, the funniest, really good girlfriend-y type of girl." Her food requests were limited to two items: tuna Lunchables and edamame. Spears also asked production to pick her up 30 minutes early so she could go to Starbucks. As Carli recalled, "She said, 'I don't mind. I actually like going in and getting to decide.'"
5. Timberlake was a fixture on set.
"It was just the most beautiful relationship, seeing the two of them together and how love-y they were," Davis says of Spears' former flame. "They were just so close, and she was such a supporter of his. He worked just as hard as her. It was like, she would be doing rehearsals and he would be doing rehearsals. They really knew that life together." Davis still owns a notebook that Spears doodled in on set. "All she was writing was 'Britney and Justin,' all these little curlicues. It was like looking at a teenage girl's musings—hearts and butterflies and Justin's name."
6. Rhimes keeps a signed Crossroads poster in her office.
"I think it really was, for me, a lesson in both fame," Rhimes said. "I really did get to see what extreme fame was like close up—and how to cope with it, how to protect my casts against it, and how to be prepared for the problems that come when it happens to people in your cast."
7. Crossroads 2 isn't off the table.
"We've actually talked a little bit, in a weird way, about a sequel. There's a lot of people [involved], and they're really busy," Carli says. "Who knows? I think it would be a lot of fun, but everybody's in different places, from Taryn to Zoe to Britney to Shonda." Rhimes isn't sure she would return to write it, though. "It's 20-something years later. I don't know what Crossroads 2 would be!" the TV titan explained. 'Would I work with that group of people again? Absolutely!"
(Originally published on Friday, March 18, 2016, at 8:27 a.m. PDT.)