Robert De Niro Briefly Played the Britney Spears Role in ‘Crossroads’

Oops, the guy from ‘Taxi Driver’ did it again
Robert De Niro Briefly Played the Britney Spears Role in ‘Crossroads’

This month, the 2002 Britney Spears-starring road trip dramedy Crossroads finally arrived on Netflix, marking the first time that the movie has ever been available to stream. Meaning that Britney Spears fans who are full-grown adults will now be able to see if this movie about three minors taking a car ride from a virtual stranger holds up or not. 

Directed by Tamra Davis, and written by future TV megaproducer Shonda Rhimes, Crossroads was created specifically as a vehicle for Spears, who plays the teenage Lucy. But through an odd series of events, one of the most famous actors of all-time briefly took a stab at performing the role of Lucy: Robert De Niro.

In addition to Spears, Crossroads features a cast of notable supporting actors, including Kim Cattrall, Zoë Saldana and Justin Long. Also, Dan Ayrkoyd plays Spears’ dad, doing his old Jimmy Carter accent from Saturday Night Live for some reason. And as the hunky car-driving Ben, who thankfully isn’t a serial killer, the filmmakers cast future Star Trek: Strange New Worlds star Anson Mount. 

When he was first offered the film, Mount was shooting City by the Sea, a crime drama starring Robert De Niro. According to Mount, while he was on set thumbing through the Crossroads script between takes, debating whether or not to audition, De Niro walked by and asked his co-star what he was up to. Mount responded: “Errr it’s this movie and Britney Spears is doing it. I’m not even sure if I’m going to do it, I’m just reading it…” To which De Niro shot back: “Why not? She’s great.”

So Mount told De Niro, “Alright, help me out here.” And in a moment that frustratingly occurred before everyone on Earth had a camera-equipped device on them at all times, De Niro proceeded to run lines with Mount, playing the Lucy character. We’ll say that one more time: The star of Taxi DriverGoodfellas and The Deer Hunter performed dialogue written for Britney Spears. As Mount put it, “He read Britney’s lines to my Ben,” qualifying that “it wasn’t the kissing scene” lest he prepare to kiss one of the biggest pop-stars on the planet by making out with Travis Bickle. 

When Mount first started telling this story during the film’s press tour, it became a hot topic of conversation. “That has been the single most popular question in the last week,” he told reporters. “It's been blown way out of proportion.” But even now, more than 20 years later, we would argue that it hasn’t been blown out of proportion. Robert De Niro briefly playing Lucy Wagner, the emotionally vulnerable teen in search of the mother who abandoned her as a child and fled to California, is objectively funny. Way funnier than most of De Niro’s actual comedies, even. 

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this). 


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