Casting & Chemistry
Part of making certain that audiences discover Spears' talent as an actress just as her co-stars did, and to ensure that moviegoers experience "Crossroads" as the coming of-age adventure that the filmmakers envisioned, involved the fine art of casting. Some roles, such as the 10-year-old Lucy, were easy to cast, since Spears' little sister, Jamie Lynn, not only looks like Spears, but she's just the right age. Other roles, however, like her core group of friends and especially her love interest were a lot more difficult.
"We searched high and low for the right girls to play Kit and Mimi," recalls Davis. "It was like putting together a band because these girls really had to be in tune with one another."
"They had to be real girls," Carli adds, "and it had to be believable that they could have been friends."
To that end, Davis and Carli spent about two months working with casting directors, viewing screen tests and doing in-person auditions until finally they were ready to narrow things down.
"We found Taryn first, and we brought her and three other girls into a hotel room to do some scenes with
Britney," recalls Davis. "And happily, she was not only Britney's first choice, but Ann's and mine as well."
"The three other girls were fine actresses, and anyone of them would have made a great Mimi," adds
Carli, " But Tamra and
I both instinctively felt that Taryn was the right choice. Still, we had the three others read with Britney just in case our gut instinct didn't pan out, and luckily, it did."
In casting Zoe Saldana, Davis and Carli wanted to see how she meshed with Manning first, and once again, Saldana stood out.
"Zoe and Taryn hit it off immediately," recalls Davis, "but since Britney was on her way to Sweden to do a recording, it was via videotape that
Zoe and Britney first met."
Carli remembers showing Saldana's screen test to Spears in the lounge of the Delta terminal just before she took off.
"She instantly agreed with Tamra and me that Zoe was the perfect choice," says
Carli, "And that's how we found our Kit."
While casting the two girls who would play Spears' friends was crucial, casting the right guy as her love interest was essential to bringing out one of Lucy's major crossroads — discovering her sexuality.
"There had to be chemistry between Britney and whoever played Ben," Davis says. "Huge chemistry."
Carli couldn't agree more, adding that they also were looking for someone who would not only look good opposite Spears, but who could also hold his own with her.
"We wanted a rugged-looking guy's guy to play Ben, not a model," explains
Carli. "In fact, we purposely stayed away from the Adonis type that everyone imagines a Britney Spears could have, and we went with a very handsome guy who young men could relate to and who regular girls could believe was attainable."
According to Carli, Anson Mount was the perfect choice, but how he interacted with Spears was still key to his capturing the role, and ironically, Robert De Niro played an important part...
"Anson couldn't get away to meet Britney because he was making a film with Robert De Niro in New York, so Tamra and I flew there to meet him, and once we saw that he could be our Ben we had Britney meet with him. And it was funny, I learned later that in order to help Anson prepare for the meeting, De Niro actually read lines with him, taking the part of Lucy!"
As it turned out, De Niro's participation paid off, and with the last of the four members of the core ensemble set, and with Dan Aykroyd and Kim Cattrall signed on to portray Lucy's parents, and Justin Long ready to play Lucy's lovesick lab partner, Henry, filming began on schedule in<
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