Joseph Kahn, the director of Britney Spears' steamy "Womanizer" video, is no stranger to working with the pop star. And having directed her in "Stronger" and "Toxic," he decided to make the clip for her new #1 single a nod to the latter.
"I didn't see it as a direct sequel but a 2008 answer to ['Toxic']," he told MTV News.
" 'Toxic' was a crystallization of her career at that time, and the tough part was that we knew there were going to be comparisons."
As in "Toxic," "Womanizer" shows Spears playing a handful of strong, hyper-stylized characters seeking revenge against a guy who has done them wrong.
"There are elements and moments of 'Toxic' that I felt could be improved," he added. "This one is a bit more fashion-forward. The only big difference is that she's been through a lot, and the big curiosity for me was how much she can give me on set."
And Kahn said Britney was determined to prove to everyone that she still loves being a pop star. "When I see her on set, she's extremely professional, and it's a job," he said. "There's really literally no messing around. ... Whatever accolades she gets, she deserves."
According to Kahn, the video was a completely collaborative effort. She came to him with a clear idea and a strong-enough song that made directing a piece of cake. "Any director could come on," he said, "because with that fierceness and determination she has, they would look like they knew what they were doing.
"I think that it's funny she didn't have to say much, and the song spoke volumes about the visual," he added.
The video's male eye candy, Brandon Stoughton, got in on the collaboration as well. "They both took it very seriously. They're inventive. He would come up with ideas."
Kahn said he noticed one major change between his last project with Britney and this one: "It's a much more mature sound and much more mature lyrics, and she always has the greatest ideas," he said. "The initial kernel of the idea always came from her. She's hyper-aware of pop culture.
"She's a mom now," Kahn added, "and one of the concerns was that she wants to work hard, and she wants to see her kids. I had to know exactly what I wanted."
After everything that Spears has been through in the last couple years, Kahn said he wanted to make the best possible video for her. "I love working with her, and I do care about doing the best that I can for her. I don't want to be the guy that failed. I don't want to be the guy. I want to be a help, not a hindrance."