Britney Spears’s audition for 2004’s The Notebook has been released for the first time.
The romance movie, which is based on the 1996 novel by Nicolas Sparks, stars Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as teenagers Noah Calhoun and Alison “Allie” Hamilton, who fall in love in the 1940s.
Before McAdams, 44, read for the part of Allie, Spears, 41, was the front-runner to take on the role.
In the audition tape, published by the Daily Mail on Monday (23 October), Spears reads an emotional scene with Gosling off camera in which Allie tells Noah she is marrying another man.
“I’m not staying,” Spears says in character. “I tried to call you to tell you that I wasn’t going to stay — but nobody answered the phone… Noah, you can’t marry two people. And I’m marrying Lon, so I should go, okay?”
“I prayed for you to die in the war, really,” Spears says as she wells up with tears. “Well, not die. I would have felt completely horrible if you would die. But I kinda didn’t want you to be alive anymore because I couldn’t bear the thought of you being with somebody else, or of us never seeing each other again. So I gotta go, okay?”
Casting director Matthew Barry shared the audition tape with the Mail, saying that “Britney wasn’t just good, she was phenomenal”. The audition tape was recorded in Los Angeles on 18 August 2002.
“It was a tough decision,” Barry said of eventually casting Canadian actor McAdams. “Britney blew us all away. Our jaws were on the floor. I was blown away. Absolutely blown away. She brought her A-game that day.”
Barry continued: “Britney beat out several of the top female actresses at the time. Scarlett Johansson, Claire Danes, Kate Bosworth, Amy Adams, Jamie King and Mandy Moore auditioned for this role. Britney beat out all of them. Everybody who was anybody that year wanted this part.”
Spears discusses missing out on the part in her new memoir, The Woman in Me, which is out on 24 October.
“Even though it would have been fun to reconnect with Ryan Gosling after our time on the Mickey Mouse Club, I’m glad I didn’t do it,” she writes, according to People.
Spears explained that in her only film role, 2002’s Crossroads, she struggled to separate herself from her character.
“My problem wasn’t with anyone involved in the production but with what acting did to my mind,” she writes. “I think I started Method acting – only 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.
“I ended up walking differently, carrying myself differently, talking differently. I was someone else for months while I filmed Crossroads. Still to this day, I bet the girls I shot that movie with think, She’s a little… quirky. If they thought that, they were right.
“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. 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.”