Britney Spears's highly anticipated memoir dropped today, and while many juicy excerpts have leaked, there is still plenty left to learn about the iconic singer. From the highs and lows of dating Justin Timberlake, the one movie role she "should've done" and her famous encounters, here are the biggest revelations from The Woman in Me.
The stars, who met as kids filming The Mickey Mouse Club, first kissed at a sleepover as someone dared Timberlake to kiss Spears: "A Janet Jackson song was playing in the background as he leaned in and kissed me."
They ultimately dated from 1999 to 2002. At some point during their relationship, she terminated an unexpected pregnancy. "It was a surprise, but for me, it wasn't a tragedy," she wrote. "I loved Justin so much. I always expected us to have a family together one day." However, she claimed the Nsync singer "definitely wasn’t happy about the pregnancy." Timberlake purportedly said they were too young and "didn't want to be a father." She had an abortion, but made it clear: "If it had been left up to me alone, I never would have done it... To this day, it's one of the most agonizing things I have ever experienced in my life."
Spears admitted to cheating on Timberlake with choreographer Wade Robson. "I was loyal to Justin for years, only had eyes for him with that one exception, which I admitted to him," Spears wrote. "That night was chalked up to something that will happen when you're as young as we were, and Justin and I moved past it and stayed together."
Timberlake allegedly cheated on Spears, too. "There were a couple of times during our relationship when I knew Justin had cheated on me," she claimed. "Especially because I was so infatuated and so in love, I let it go, even though the tabloids seemed determined to rub my face in it."
Spears was dumped and their breakup played out on a public stage. She slammed Timberlake's 2002 music video for Cry Me a River in which he painted her as a "harlot who'd broken the heart of America's golden boy," when in actuality, she was "comatose in Louisiana, and he was happily running around Hollywood."
Aguilera and Spears were often pitted against each other in the media. In The Woman in Me, Spears called out Aguilera and Timberlake for posing together on the cover of Rolling Stone in 2003. She described Timberlake "looking at [Christina] with sexy eyes" as they promoted The Justified & Stripped Tour.
"In that story, she said she thought Justin and I should get back together, which was just confusing, given how negative she'd been elsewhere," Spears wrote. "Even if they weren't trying to be cruel, it felt like they were just pouring salt in the wound. Why was it so easy for everyone to forget that I was a human being — vulnerable enough that these headlines could leave a bruise?"
The "Vogue" singer and Spears struck up a friendship in the years before they shared a kiss onstage at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2003. (More about that below.) The women sometimes attended the same European awards shows and related to one another as female stars navigating their lives in public.
When Spears and Timberlake ended their relationship in 2002, Madonna was there to help her through it, even visiting her. "Madonna's supreme confidence helped me see a lot about my situation with fresh eyes," Spears wrote. "I think she probably had some intuitive sense of what I was going through. I needed a little guidance at that time. I was confused about my life. She tried to mentor me."
Other famous romances...
Actor Colin Farrell: She called their tryst "a two-week brawl," explaining "brawl is the only word for it — we were all over each other, grappling so passionately it was like we were in a street fight."
Childhood friend (and first husband) Jason Alexander: They got "s***faced" and wed in Vegas in 2004. "People have asked me if I loved him. To be clear: He and I were not in love," she stated. "I was just honestly very drunk — and probably, in a more general sense at that time in my life, very bored."
Dancer (and second husband) Kevin Federline, with whom she shares sons Jayden, 17, and Sean Preston, 18: She "was clueless" he was expecting a child when they began dating. "Kevin had a 'bad boy' image. Still, I had no idea when we met that he had a toddler, nor that his ex-girlfriend was eight months pregnant with his second baby," she wrote. "I was living in a bubble, and I didn’t have a lot of good, close friends to confide in and get advice from. I had no idea until after we'd been together for a while and someone told me: 'You know he has a new baby, right?'" They were married from 2004 to 2007.
Model/actor (and third husband) Sam Asghari: The book was written before he filed for divorce earlier this year, but she detailed how she was "instantly smitten" when they met on the set of her "Slumber Party" music video in 2016. "The chemistry with us in the beginning was insane," she said. "We couldn't keep our hands off each other. He called me his lioness."
All those MTV Video Music Award moments
Performing with a real snake in 2001: "The plan was for me to sing 'I'm a Slave 4 U,' and we decided I would use a snake as a prop. It’s become an iconic moment in VMAs history, but it was even more terrifying than it appeared," she recalled. "All I knew was to look down, because I felt if I looked up and caught its eye, it would kill me."
The kiss with Madonna in 2003 was originally unplanned: While rehearsing their performance of "Like a Virgin," the trio — including Aguilera — had always practiced an air kiss. "About two minutes before the performance, I was sitting on the side of the stage and thinking about my biggest performance to date at the VMAs, when I'd pulled off a suit to reveal a sparkly outfit," she said, referencing her performance of "Oops!...I Did It Again" at the 2000 VMAs. "I thought to myself: I want a moment like that again this year. With the kiss, should I just go for it?"
That "Gimme More" performance where everyone acted like "my not having six-pack abs was offensive": It was her return to the stage after shaving her head in 2007. She also detailed an awkward run-in with Timberlake. "It had been a while since I'd seen him," she penned. "Everything was going great in his world. He was at the top of his game in every way, and he had a lot of swagger. I was having a panic attack. I hadn't rehearsed enough. I hated the way I looked. I knew it was going to be bad."
Drugs and partying
Spears said "it was never as wild as the press made it out to be" during her clubbing days in the mid-2000s. However, she admitted her "drug of choice" at the time was the ADHD medication Adderall, which said "made me high, yes, but what I found far more appealing was that it gave me a few hours of feeling less depressed." The Grammy winner said she wasn't interested in illegal drugs and "never had a drinking problem."
As for shaving her head and hitting a paparazzi's car with an umbrella, Spears said she was "out of my mind with grief" over the death of her aunt amid her custody battle with Federline. "I am willing to admit that in the throes of severe postpartum depression, abandonment by my husband, the torture of being separated from my two babies, the death of my adored aunt Sandra, and the constant drumbeat of pressure from paparazzi, I'd begin to think in some ways like a child," she wrote.
Crossroads: While shooting the 2002 road trip dramedy, the singer tried method acting, which was disorienting. "The experience wasn’t easy for me. My problem wasn't with anyone involved in the production but with what acting did to my mind," she claimed. "I ended up walking differently, carrying myself differently, talking differently. I was someone else for months while I filmed Crossroads. Still to this day, I bet the girls I shot that movie with think, She’s a little…quirky. If they thought that, they were right." (Director Tamra Davis told Yahoo Entertainment she was shocked by Spears's memoir revelations.)
The Notebook: No, you didn't miss a cameo by the singer — but she made it to the final round of auditions to star opposite Ryan Gosling. (It was between her and Rachel McAdams, who ultimately got the role.) "I'm glad I didn't do it," she explained. "If I had [taken the role], instead of working on my album In the Zone I'd have been acting like a 1940s heiress day and night ... I hope I never get close to that occupational hazard again."
Chicago: Spears had the opportunity to star in the 2002 movie musical. She regrets turning down as she could have played "a villain who kills a man, and sings and dances while doing it." She added: "I should've done it. I had power back then; I wish I'd used it more thoughtfully, been more rebellious... But I was committed to not rocking the boat, and to not complaining even when something upset me."
Diane Sawyer: Spears called the controversial sit-down (after breaking up with Timberlake) a "breaking point" for her. "I felt like I had been exploited, set up in front of the whole world," she stated.
Ryan Seacrest: Although she said she holds no ill-will towards the host, she criticized an interview in 2007. "[He] asked me questions like, 'How do you respond to those who criticize you as a mom?' and 'Do you feel like you're doing everything you can for your kids?' and 'How often will you see them?'" she recalled. "It felt like that was the only thing people wanted to talk about: whether or not I was a fit mother... Not about how I'd made such a strong album while holding two babies on my hips and being pursued by dozens of dangerous [paparazzi] all day every day."
Spears said she agreed to the conservatorship in 2008 for the sake of her kids. "After being held down on a gurney, I knew they could restrain my body any time they wanted to," she wrote. "And so I went along with it... My freedom in exchange for naps with my children — it was a trade I was willing to make."
She didn't mince words about sister Jamie Lynn, who allegedly told Spears to stop fighting the conservatorship. "This will sound crazy, but I’ll say it again because it’s the truth: I thought they were going to try to kill me. I didn't understand how Jamie Lynn and our father had developed such a good relationship," she wrote. "She knew I was reaching out to her for help and that she was dogging me. I felt like she should have taken my side.”
In 2020, Spears was "grounded" for taking her mask off amid the pandemic: "Out in the world, the security team imposed by my father kept enforcing rules," she penned. "One day I was on the beach and I took off my mask. Security ran over to scold me. I was reprimanded and grounded for weeks."
She learned about the #FreeBritney movement from a nurse in a "rehab" she was forced into by her father. "They kept me locked up against my will for months," she writes. "I couldn't go outside. I couldn't drive a car. I had to give blood weekly. I couldn't take a bath in private. I couldn't shut the door to my room."
Although Spears believes her sister recently capitalized on her conservatorship situation by writing a book, she is "working" to forgive. "She will always be my sister, and I love her and her beautiful family," she wrote. "I'm working to feel more compassion than anger toward her and toward everyone who I feel has wronged me. It's not easy."
As of now, Spears has no plans to make music. "My music was my life, and the conservatorship was deadly for that; it crushed my soul," she said. "Pushing forward in my music career is not my focus at the moment. It's time for me not to be someone who other people want; it's time to actually find myself."
Spears said she still has "a lot of soul-searching to do" and explained how she loves "playing dress-up" on social media. "I was born into this world naked, and I honestly feel like the weight of the world has been on my shoulders. I wanted to see myself lighter and free," she said about her frequent nude photos on Instagram. "I really do feel reborn. Singing as I walk around at home just like I did as a little girl."
The Woman in Me is out everywhere now.