Britney Spears was one of the frontrunners to star as Allie, opposite Ryan Gosling’s Noah, in the 2004 romantic-drama, ‘The Notebook.’
The Notebook that could’ve been.
Hollywood casting director, Matthew Barry, shared a two-decades old audition tape with the Daily Mail, which sees Britney Spears reading scenes opposite her fellow Mickey Mouse club alum, Ryan Gosling.
The 2002 clip sees a then-21-year-old Spears give an emotional performance during the screen test with Gosling, sobbing as she read her lines.
Spears, who was dressed in a white lace top and wearing her hair down in the long-awaited audition tape, and Gosling, who is standing off-camera, read through a scene together.
The pop star slowly tears up as she goes through her lines for the film, based on the 1996 novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks, which follows Allie and Noah who fall in love in the 1940s before being forced apart by her disapproving mother.
“I’m not staying,” Spears begins. “I tried to call you to tell you that I wasn’t going to stay, but nobody answered the phone.”
It’s then Spears reveals that her character — Allie — is planning to marry another man after losing contact with Noah, who she presumed was dead after being drafted away for war.
“Noah, you can’t marry two people. And I’m marrying Lon, so I should go, okay?,” she continues.
Spears starts crying, telling Gosling, “I prayed for you to die in the war, really. 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?”
Despite Spears’ touching performance, the role would ultimately go to Rachel McAdams, however, according Barry, the singer, now 41, beat out a slew of other hopefuls, including Claire Danes, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams and Jessica Biel.
She was even the front-runner for the part of Allie before the movie’s creators landed on McAdams.
The raw, two-and-a-half minute audition came on the heels of Spears’ breakup from ex, Justin Timberlake, which came to an end with a text message after three years of dating.
Whether the moment was fueled by the split or not, Barry said Spears’ ability to tap into those emotions “blew away” the movie’s producers and almost secured her the role.
“Britney wasn’t just good, she was phenomenal,” Barry recalled of the 2002 audition.
He continued, “It was a tough decision. 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.”
Gosling similarly praised Spears in a 2013 interview with Entertainment Tonight, telling the outlet, “We met with a lot of actresses, and they were all very good. I hadn’t seen her really since she was about 12 — we were both 12 — so she’s grown up, but she was really good, actually.”
It finally came down to a “tough” call between Spears and then-unknown actress McAdams, who moviemakers eventually decided to go with for the 2004 film.
The decision was welcomed by Spears who said later said in her memoir that she would’ve felt “messed up” spending weeks playing 1940s-era heiress, Allie.
Recalling her screen test in her upcoming tell-all, The Woman in Me, Spears said, “The Notebook casting came down to me and Rachel McAdams, and 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 continued, “If I had, instead of working on my album In the Zone, I’d have been acting like a 1940s heiress day and night.”
It was a place Spears was unwilling to venture to again as she had found herself overwhelmed by Method acting during the filming of Crossroads, in which she played Lucy Wagner.
“I hope I never get close to that occupational hazard again,” Spears wrote. “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.”
The Notebook went on to be a huge hit, and is considered one of the best romantic films of all time.
Aside from grossing $118 million at the box office on a $29 million budget, the movie helped launch both Gosling and McAdams into superstardom.