She was in the zone! Natasha Bassett, the star of Lifetime’s upcoming Britney Spears biopic, Britney Ever After, spoke exclusively with Us Weekly and revealed how she transformed into the superstar for the made-for-TV movie.
From tweaking her physical appearance to perfecting Spears’ sweet Southern drawl, Bassett, 24, tells Us that becoming Brit was no easy feat. “I mean, transforming into Britney was quite the process. They sent me to a tanning salon once a week and bleached my hair blonde,” the natural brunette says. “All of it. I definitely transformed.”
Aside from her sexy image, the Sydney native also worked hard to adopt Spears’ distinctive speaking voice and electrifying stage presence.
“The minute I found out I had the part, I started speaking in her accent right away. I drove my mom and friends crazy for a week before I went to Vancouver to shoot. I was staying in accent for a full week before shooting, and I actually stayed in accent throughout the entire shoot,” Bassett recounts to Us. “So I think some of the crew still don’t even know I’m Australian.”
And when it came to channeling Spears’ onstage persona, the actress tells Us that she had a limited amount of time to prepare. “I hadn’t danced a great deal before, so I had one week to learn how to dance like Britney, which was daunting, but I ended up just enjoying it,” she says. “And it also gave me a great deal more respect for Britney and her insane schedule because I know she can do 12 to 14 hours a day, nonstop, of dance rehearsals, and I tried. It was hard!”
It was also rewarding. Bassett tells Us that shooting the concert sequences — modeled after some of Spears’ most memorable performances — were among her favorite scenes to film.
“There are so many great moments from Britney’s life that I loved re-creating, so it’s hard to choose,” she explains. “But definitely in her early twenties, when she was on top of the world and really having fun with what she was doing and being able to perform in a stadium. Pretending to be Britney Spears the performer was such an exhilarating experience.”
Bassett was only in grade school when Spears, now 35, burst onto the teen pop scene as a naughty-but-nice schoolgirl with the 1998 release of her debut single, “… Baby One More Time,” and its iconic music video. While she loved Spears’ songs from a young age — “I would hold a hairbrush microphone in my hand and pretend to be Britney Spears in the mirror!” — she knew little about the singer’s headline-grabbing personal life.
Understanding that she would have to portray the chart-topping diva’s ups and downs — specifically the “Gimme More” songstress’ 2007 head-shaving breakdown and subsequent umbrella attack on the paparazzi — Bassett did everything she could to put herself in Spears’ shoes.
“I was in London when I found out I would be playing her, and I was so thrilled. I went to every bookstore in London looking for books on Britney Spears. I found some biographies online that were imperative to understand her journey and know about the experiences she’s had in her life,” the Hail, Caesar! actress tells Us. “And, you know, I’ve watched pretty much every single interview and documentary available online on Britney, and I obsessed over her; I studied her, her facial expressions, her movements, the tone of her voice.”
When the time came to depict Spears’ darker days, Bassett tells Us that it was emotionally taxing. “Sometimes with this movie, they would do 20 different camera angles for one emotional scene. So sometimes I was just crying for seven hours, which is not always fun. But now I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for Britney because the way she dealt with the challenges she was facing in her life, she dealt with those challenges in an amazing way,” Bassett adds, pointing to the pop star’s triumphant return to the spotlight in 2008 when she released her sixth studio album, Circus. “She came out on top in the end, and so much stronger."
Asked which attribute of Spears she’d like to hold on to after the release of Britney Ever After, Bassett was quick to tell Us that she will always cherish the Grammy winner’s courageous spirit.
“The main thing I took away from playing Britney is that she really inspired me to be more honest and strong in the decisions I make in my life, because there’s a real fearlessness to her that I respect. She always puts her heart and soul into everything she does and that’s something to be admired,” she says. “That’s something I’ve definitely taken away from the film and I’ve tried to incorporate into my own life.”
Britney Ever After premieres on Lifetime Saturday, February 18, at 8 p.m. ET.
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