TV & Movies

Crossroads’ Director Explained Why The Movie’s *NSYNC Moment Was Important

The “Bye Bye Bye” sing-along was deeper than you might think.

Zoe Saldana, Taryn Manning, and Britney Spears riding in car in a scene from the film 'Crossroads', ...
Archive Photos/Moviepix/Getty Images

Cruising in a ’73 Buick convertible with the top down, Britney Spears’ Crossroads character, Lucy, begins singing along to a familiar tune on the radio. I don’t wanna be a fool in this game for two... Soon, her childhood BFFs Kit (Zoe Saldaña) and Mimi (Taryn Manning) enthusiastically join the impromptu *NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” performance, while their new pal, Ben (Anson Mount), remains unmoved behind the wheel.

Of all the needle drops in 2002 coming-of-age dramedy, the musical moment held particular significance, according to Crossroads director Tamra Davis. “The [*NSYNC] scene encapsulated what was going on with the music scene at that time,” she recently explained to Entertainment Weekly. “It was this mixture of what music [Ben] wanted to listen to, which was Nirvana and alt-grunge, versus what the girls wanted to listen to, which was *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys and boy bands. We loved that contrast of radio.”

Though Davis couldn’t recall if “Bye Bye Bye,” the group’s lead single from 2000’s No Strings Attached, “was specifically in the script,” she did her best to manage expectations. “I think up to the last minute, we didn’t know if we would have the rights because it was a gigantic song,” she revealed.

Archive Photos/Moviepix/Getty Images

Though it’s unclear if Spears’ relationship with Justin Timberlake factored into the approval process, Davis noted that Crossroads filmed “right in the middle of the two of them together.” Calling the now-exes “seriously the cutest couple” at the time, she even shared that Timberlake was around the set while the “Overprotected” singer was shooting the Shonda Rhimes-penned movie.

Not Yet A Woman

At the time, Spears was hoping to debut a more grown-up image, following her days as the “girl next door” on The Mickey Mouse Club. Not everyone was on board, though, and elsewhere in the EW interview, Davis described how she “definitely had to fight for some stuff” to remain in the script, including Lucy and Ben’s PG-13 sex scene.

“She wanted to [challenge] that image that she’s this forever virgin girl,” Davis elaborated, noting that Spears’ intimate scene was shot in a tasteful way so that “a kid would not know what the heck is going on.” Added Davis, “That was a fight I’m happy we won.”

Archive Photos/Moviepix/Getty Images

End Of The Road

Crossroads is also back in the headlines, thanks to Spears’ upcoming memoir, The Woman in Me (out Oct. 24). In an excerpt shared by People, the pop star shares her difficult experience with “method acting” while filming the 2002 movie.

“I didn’t know how to break out of my character. I really became this other person. Some people do Method acting, but they’re usually aware of the fact that they’re doing it. But I didn’t have any separation at all,” she writes. After production wrapped, Spears, who also auditioned for The Notebook, ultimately decided that was “pretty much the beginning and end” of her acting career.

“I imagine there are people in the acting field who have dealt with something like that, where they had trouble separating themselves from a character,” she adds. “I hope I never get close to that occupational hazard again. Living that way, being half yourself and half a fictional character, is messed up. After a while you don’t know what’s real anymore.”