With Britney Spears leaving no stone unturned in her new memoir, The Woman in Me, fans are walking with her down memory lane.
Among her career milestones revisited in the book is her unforgettable 2001 MTV Video Music Awards performance of “Slave 4 U,” in which she paraded across the stage in a green two-piece while holding a giant yellow python across her shoulders.
“In my head, I was saying, just perform, just use your legs and perform. But what nobody knows is that as I was singing, the snake brought its head right around to my face, right up to me, and started hissing at me,” she writes, according toBillboard. “You didn’t see that shot on the TV, but in real life? I was thinking, ‘Are you f**king serious right now?’ The f**king godd**n snake’s tongue is flicking out at me. Right. Now. Finally, I got to the part where I handed it back, thank God.”
That same month, Spears released the steamy music video for her infectious single. Directed by Francis Lawrence, the visual saw Spears grinding along with a cast of sweaty dancers in an apocalyptic-looking building.
“I love that video and I think it’s actually aged really well,” Lawrence tells ET’s Ash Crossan in a new interview. “I really liked that song and I think the performance in it is great.”
The filmmaker — who is currently gearing up for the release of his latest big screen project, The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes — remembers Spears as a “shy” star despite her bombshell moves. Still, he says, there was one moment that had her nervous.
In the scene where “they’re all breathing heavy,” Lawrence recalls, “There’s a moment where she actually licks somebody’s face. And I just remember she was really shy about doing it.”
“It was like her team and the dancers, and she knew them, and the choreographer, and everybody was sort of amping her up,” Lawrence shares. “She was shy, and it doesn’t look like there’s any shyness in that video. …That sort of shifted it.”
Lawrence went on to direct Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River” music video. The song served as a scathing breakup anthem and its video memorably featured a Spears lookalike.
Lawrence also directed Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body” video the following year and reunited with Spears in 2008 for her “Circus” music video.
Spears’ tell-all memoir is out now.
Now, Lawrence is focused on returning to Panem with a prequel to the beloved Hunger Games series that serves as an origin story for the villainous President Snow.
“I think we’re both really interested in villain origin stories and stories where people break that,” Lawrence tells ET, sitting for the interview alongside producer Nina Jacobson.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes will be released on Nov. 17.