It may seem odd to say that the 2002 Britney Spears vehicle Crossroads owes its existence to Sophocles’ Antigone, but that’s basically how it happened. Before creating such hit series as Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder, Shonda Rhimes penned a black adaptation of the ancient Greek tragedy set in the 1930s, and this script caught the attention of producer Ann Carli. Though Carli didn’t end up producing that film, she had another project in mind for Rhimes: a feature-length vehicle for pop star Britney Spears, who was then eager to cross over into motion pictures. Broadly’s Emalie Marthe has written an engaging history of the Spears film entitled, “Not A Hit, Not Yet A Cult Classic: Shonda Rhimes On The Making Of Crossroads.” The article includes warm testimony from Rhimes, Carli, and director Tamra Davis, all of whom share a fondness for the admittedly “corny” project.
As the article reveals, Rhimes was interested in using the film to show the real Spears as a believable, three-dimensional human being. Crossroads was, therefore, sincere and earnest to a fault, eschewing the snark and irony of such hits as Mean Girls and Clueless. The people involved with the project have nothing but praise for Spears herself, whom they remember as a consummate professional who was down to earth and easy to work with. At the time, according to the article, Spears’ life seemed to center around her lovey-dovey relationship with Justin Timberlake. Marthe includes all sorts of charming little details about the production, including the fact that one of Spears’ only on-set demands was for tuna Lunchables, while costar Anson Mount practiced his lines with none other than Robert De Niro, who gamely read Spears’ part. Despite being critically lambasted, the movie turned a sizable profit on a very modest budget, and the interviewees have no desire to distance themselves from Crossroads. Rhimes even says she would be up for Crossroads 2. Your move, Ms. Spears.