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Here’s Why ‘The Notebook’ Casting Director Wants Britney Spears to Have an Acting Comeback

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Britney Spears could easily have a second career as an actor, says casting director Matthew Barry.

Earlier this week, Barry released Spears’ 2002 audition tape for the critically acclaimed film The Notebook, in which Spears is seen expertly delivering her lines and crying on que. Barry tells Billboard that Spears was “incredible” in her audition and, as Spears details in her memoir The Woman in Me, the decision came down to her and Rachel McAdams, who ultimately landed the role of Allie Hamilton opposite Ryan Gosling.

According to Barry, Spears took the audition very seriously and asked if she could work with him and his partner Nancy Green-Keyes prior to meeting with the director.

“She wanted to get it right,” says Barry. “We really worked with her to guide her since we’ve worked with [director] Nick Cassavetes. I’d worked with him for 15 years and knew everything he was looking for.”

She was the only actress to request additional time with Barry and his partner, who also saw Jessica Biel, Mandy Moore, Claire Danes, Scarlett Johansson, Kate Bosworth and Jamie King for the role.

Spears work ethic following her feature film debut in the Shonda Rhimes-penned Crossroads was “phenomenal,” says Barry. “She was so determined. The thing I was most impressed with is that she came with no entourage, not even a driver. She just came in on her own, sat in our office and went over the scenes.”

According to Barry and Spears’s memoir, which was released Tuesday (Oct. 24), she very much wanted the role despite her reservations about acting again. “I think Britney felt she was not as trained as an actress,” says Barry, who explains that he decided to release the video now – after more than 20 years – to give her a “little more positive reinforcement” and to “show her fans that she was really fantastic.”

When Spears got the opportunity to audition with Gosling, Barry says the two hit it out of the park. They ran their scenes together, and it wasn’t until afterwards when the casting directors and Cassavetes were informed they were on The Mickey Mouse Club together years earlier. “It was a great reunion,” says Barry. “Ryan was part of the [casting] process and he was OK with either Rachel or Britney.”

Spears wrote in her memoir that her music career is on an indefinite hiatus: “Pushing forward in my music career is not my focus at the moment. Right now it’s time for me to try to get my spiritual life in order, to pay attention to little things, to slow down.”

With a break from music, Barry says Spears could easily make a creative comeback through acting. Given her Instagram videos of dancing, Barry believes “she still wants to perform. She’s trying desperately to express herself.”

As a casting director, he says it’s his job to turn over every rock and reach out to pop stars like Spears in 2002 (or Taylor Swift who he reached out to earlier this year to star in another Cassavetes film – he says her team turned her down with the international tour approaching).

“I honestly believe [Spears] can [make it in acting],” says Barry. “Come work with me, I’ll whip her into [acting] shape in a month.”

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