Inside story of Justin Timberlake's 'Cry Me a River' video and that Britney Spears look-alike

Gwynne Watkins
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Not only did Francis Lawrence direct Red Sparrow, I Am Legend, and three Hunger Games films, but he’s responsible for some of the most unforgettable music videos of the past 25 years. While promoting his spy thriller starring Jennifer Lawrence (no relation), the director took a few minutes to share behind-the-scenes stories about Justin Timberlake‘s 2002 “Cry Me a River” video and Beyoncé‘s 2011 “Run the World (Girls)” video. In the interview (watch it above), Lawrence revealed that Timberlake readily agreed to play a vindictive ex-boyfriend to the Britney Spears look-alike in the video for his breakup ballad — but never once said Britney’s name.

“I never thought that he would say yes to [the video], because it doesn’t portray him in the best light,” Lawrence said about Timberlake, who was just beginning his post-NSync solo career. “He’s creeping around the house and he breaks in and he does pretty awful things in this house. It’s clearly illegal. But he went for it.

“The interesting fact about it is in my treatment, I never mentioned her name,” Lawrence said about Britney. “So it was just a girl, blond, with a certain kind of hat, driving a certain kind of car with certain kinds of items around the house, and things like that. And he, throughout the making of the video, never said her name. There was just this kind of understanding about what it all was and what it all meant.”

Lawrence, who had previously directed Spears’s “I’m a Slave 4 U” video, was stunned when the singer asked him to direct her video for the 2008 comeback song “Circus” just six years after “Cry Me a River.”

“I mean, I never talked to her about it,” he said. “I never in a milllion years thought that she was going to call me for a video again after that.”

Among Lawrence’s other legendary music videos are those for Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” Jennifer Lopez’s “Jenny From the Block,” and Destiny’s Child’s “Independent Women Part I.” But the one that made him swear off doing music videos, he told Yahoo, was Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls).”

“That was the last video I ever did,” said Lawrence. “You know what? If I’m going to be honest — I like Beyoncé, I like her music a lot, it was a bit of a nightmare production, and it sort of has made me swear off of doing music videos. That’s my experience about that one. But I loved that song … that’s a could-have-been-better video for me.”

Red Sparrow is now in theaters.

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