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Monday, 25 March, 2002, 23:16 GMT
Britney's image game
Britney Spears at the Crossroads premiere
Spears says she wants to focus on films for now
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By Ian Youngs
BBC News Online
Britney Spears is hoping that a poor reception at her UK film première will not dent the chances of success on the big screen.

The fans had been waiting all day.

By early on Monday evening, more than 2,000 of them had taken over half of London's Leicester Square, where the première for Britney Spears' first film, Crossroads, was due to take place.

Some held home-made banners hanging over the crush barriers and there were sporadic outbursts of screaming - and that was three hours before Spears was due to arrive.

Britney Spears
Spears spoke to reporters on the day of the première
Her expected arrival time came and went, and the anticipation was at fever-pitch when the star finally turned up at around 2100 GMT.

Many fans would have considered it worth the wait if she had done what many stars do, and spent some time chatting and signing autographs.

But she was late and was only able to wave before being ushered into the Odeon cinema.

It was then that the crowd started booing, hissing and chanting her name.

The incident is not a major blow for the star - but it does put a dent in her reputation as a celebrity who has always made time for her fans and who has been under no illusions as to who has put her where she is today.

Just hours before the première, she was telling reporters that she kept her feet on the ground thanks to her friends and the fear of being told off by her mother.

Britney Spears
Spears says she still loves performing
"When I go home, if I don't make up my bed or wash the dishes - I'm in trouble," she said.

She has had a rare ability to connect with audiences in the past - and has managed to enjoy three years as one of the biggest stars in the world.

That is partly down to the fact that her passion for music and performing has not waned, she said.

"I love performing. I love entertaining. I love to tell stories for people," she said.

"I think some people are just born to do certain things for people and I'm very lucky and blessed that I knew that this was what I wanted to do."

She always seems to have a sunny outlook on life - another reason why fans love her - but she also jealously guards the parts of her identity that she does not want to reveal.

Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake
Rumours about Spears' relationship have been rife
She comes across as very girly and idealistic, but can evade an awkward question with the skill of a spin-doctor.

When journalists construct questions that they hope may entice something slightly controversial, Spears puts the best possible light on things that are often, in her words, "very cool".

And her "people" employ their own spin tactics - shown by the Crossroads producer Ann Carli saying that they denied all stories about a Britney film even through they were true just to throw journalists off the scent.

But Spears' life is lived under the media spotlight - and many past stars have cracked under much less pressure.

Spears also has to endure constant speculation in the press about her virginity and - more recently - whether she has split from boyfriend Justin Timberlake.

But she did not do anything to quieten the rumour mill at her London press conference by saying that she was not in "an intense relationship" at the moment and describing her co-star and on-screen boyfriend Anson Mount as "very attractive".


Crossroads has offered Spears the chance to talk about her work rather than just her private life, though - and said she wants to focus on acting in the immediate future.

"I would love to do more films, more challenging roles, to challenge myself as an actress," she said.

Although she had been on the stage and on TV from her childhood days, acting in a film was a completely new experience for her, she said.

Britney Spears in Crossroads
Spears says Crossroads is not about her
"I was really nervous at first - I'm really used to performing on stage and am really confident with that and this is a whole new territory for me, it's really different.

"Once I got on the set and I got the clothes on, it was really easy to build the character and get into it."

In the film, she plays a young woman who goes on a voyage of discovery across the United States with two friends.

But despite what some people have said, it is not autobiographical - and she would never make a film of her life, she said.

Although the fans will keep flocking to see her in the foreseeable future, Spears has been reminded that they are the ones who determine whether she is successful.

BBC News Online reviews Britney Spears' movie debut Screen debut
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See also:

25 Mar 02 | Showbiz
Fans boo Britney at première
11 Mar 02 | Showbiz
Britney denies split
14 Dec 01 | Showbiz
Fur flies over Britney posters
24 Apr 01 | Reviews
Britney branches out
25 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Britney baffled by sexy image
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