“If I don’t turn around, maybe they’ll think, That was just a guy who looks like him,” whispers Timberlake. “There will be a much more confident version of the story when he comes home: I walked up to him and said, “Mate, sign this,” says Timberlake. I just walked up to Michael Jordan and I said, “What’s up, man? ' ” Creativity, whether it’s fine art, performance, or music, is something that Timberlake takes very seriously—it’s what he thinks saved him from a humdrum life as a shy boy in Tennessee. “It was redeeming that I played basketball, because if you don’t play basketball or football where I come from, you’re a sissy.” His mother, Lynn Harless, had him when she was 20, and was divorced from his father, a singer in a bluegrass band, when Justin was a toddler.
By 21 he had escaped this pubescent prison to become a solo RB artist, playing an updated type of free-flowing 70s funk that turned him into an international sex symbol.
” Gluck, who calls Timberlake “fiercely normal, in a good way,” gave the duo a choice: they could film their sex scenes, which feature graphic acts in which one or the other’s head is under the sheets, at either the beginning or the end of production. “We figured that by then we’d really, hopefully, be friends, which is what happened,” says Kunis.
“It’s always uncomfortable to do those scenes—it doesn’t matter if it’s with a same-sex partner or opposite-sex partner,” she says, referring to her lesbian scenes with Natalie Portman in Black Swan.
And then, at 25, by singing about putting his dick in a box on Saturday Night Live, he began what’s been a seamless transition from rock star to actor, a path which is widening this month as he appears in his first leading role, in the comedy Friends with Benefits.
He also has a supporting part in the Cameron Diaz comedy Bad Teacher, and is finishing postproduction on Now, a futuristic drama with Amanda Seyfried and Olivia Wilde. “I’ve made a long career out of low expectations.” This need to succeed, to become his generation’s multi-talented Sammy Davis Jr., is part of what makes him appealing to filmmakers.