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Timberlake quiere protagonizar una comedia con Will Smith

Justin Timberlake ha revelado que quiere protagonizar una película cómica en el futuro. El cantante de SexyBack, que ya ha protagonizado varias películas como Alpha Dog y Black Snake Moan, explicó que solo consideraría un proyecto de esas características si el guión fuera lo suficientemente bueno.

“Me gustaría hacer una comedia. Pero tiene que ser perfecta. Incluso las comedias, tienen al fin y al cabo algo de sustancia que añadir a la trama”, Timberlake dice a The Scotsman.

“Me gustaría trabajar con Will Smith en alguna película en el genero de la comedia. Creo que sería gracioso si fuéramos hermanos biológicos. ¡Vamos a lanzar esa idea a Hollywood y ver si alguien pica!”

Separating the man from the boy

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE is throwing up in the toilet. He’s kicking seven bells out of his best buddy. He’s smacking an old guy round the head and spewing racist slurs. He’s pointing a loaded pistol at his best girl. Now he’s sweating as he owns up to crippling anxiety attacks. Now he’s about to puke again. Now he’s sobbing.

It isn’t in just his chart-topping, arena-filling music career that Timberlake is showing his range. The 26-year-old has a clutch of small film roles under his belt – he’s a tattooed gang member in this month’s indie film Alpha Dog, and voices King Arthur in the upcoming Shrek The Third. Most impressively, in next month’s Black Snake Moan, the over-achieving boy-man plays Ronnie, a National Guardsman from the Deep South about to ship out to Iraq or Afghanistan. He’s leaving behind his girlfriend Rae (Christina Ricci) – the first scene in the film is one of hot’n’heavy farewell sex.

Timberlake, a Memphis boy like Black Snake Moan director Craig Brewer, says he loved how the script “took chances”, which is certainly one way to describe this all-het-up melodrama. Tennessee Williams by way of Quentin Tarantino, you might say. “I’m reading about these characters and I’m thinking to myself: ‘Where in the world do these people come from?'” recalls Timberlake of his first look at the script. “[But] as the movie progresses… you start to say to yourself: ‘Oh, I’ve been there before. I know someone who’s been there before’. I wanted to find places where it was strong for Ronnie in the midst of all that weakness; find those places where he fought it instead of giving in to it”.

Playing a sensitive boy from Tennessee is no big stretch for Timberlake, yet he more than holds his own amid the pop-eyed, scenery-chewing extravagance of Ricci and Samuel L Jackson. But it’s not the first time he’s entered the mindset of a young soldier. He collaborated with Will.I.Am of Black Eyed Peas – for whom Justin ‘Zelig’ Timberlake wrote the hook to the global hit ‘Where Is The Love?’ (it came to him while he was in the bathroom doing a pee, he tells me with a grin) – on a song, ‘Loose Ends’, for an album by Sergio Mendes. Will.I.Am told Timberlake the embryonic number “sounded conscious”. Timberlake duly came up with a lyric about a soldier’s family left at home after he’s sent to war.

Recently, at the invitation of the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in Washington DC, Timberlake spent a day at the facility, the main treatment centre for injured veterans. “Kids, 21, 22-year-olds”, he says quietly. “The majority had [been caught] in IED [Improvised Explosive Device] blasts – homemade bombs. Crazy”. When a patient asked Timberlake why he’d bothered to come, he replied: “Why not? I wanted to come here and say thank you”.

There was one young soldier from Montana who made an impact on Timberlake. He had been recuperating for four months and had refused all visitors, including his governor and senator. But he asked to see Timberlake, much to the surprise of the hospital authorities. “I just wish the politicians would let us fight the war”, he said to Timberlake. “It’s so cool that you came here, man, because we feel that we get stereotyped from people in Hollywood, so we stereotype you. So for you to come here and talk to me.”..

Does Timberlake think the troops should be brought home? “It’s hard not to feel that way”, he replies. “You’re kinda like at this point: ‘What are we doing over there?’ And you can’t get it from the news, ‘cause it’s the version they want you to see. Fox News! I’m sorry but Fox News is @+%@.

“It’s just a tabloid world!” he sighs, ultra-wary – courtesy of his status as the man who went out with Britney Spears and Cameron Diaz – of being drawn into that arena.

“So you can’t watch the news and depend on them for anything. It’s hard to make an accurate assessment… You have to have all the facts. And I don’t know that any of us have all the facts. But it’s hard to look at it and say: ‘THIS SEEMS LOGICAL! LET’S LEAVE ‘EM OVER THERE!”‘

I meet Justin Timberlake in Manchester, New Hampshire. The North American leg of his FutureSex/LoveShow tour is almost done; next stop, the world, and the remainder of the 102 extravagant concerts that will keep him on the road until autumn. The album he’s promoting, last year’s future-pop masterpiece FutureSex/LoveSounds, has already sold 5.8 million copies (2002’s Justified, his first solo album after leaving *NSync, sold 7.6 million). The Verizon Wireless Arena before showtime is a hum of activity. Support act Pink is doing her sound check. Tour personnel, all 180 of them, bustle about their business or eat dinner courtesy of the top-notch catering. Half-naked dancers scoff scallops; burly roadies get stuck into ribs. Stuck over the corridors are posters reminding everyone that straight after the show they have a six-hour, 349-mile drive to their next show in Philadelphia.

I ask how best friend Trace Ayala – the childhood buddy with whom Timberlake is working on a fashion line – would describe him. Lounging in his dressing room, Timberlake strokes one of his two boxer dogs as he thinks. The sexiest man in pop – recently seen giving Scarlett Johansson a good tonguing in the video for his single ‘What Goes Around’ – is dressed in battered jeans and a favourite green tracksuit top.

“Trace would probably describe me as a perfectionist”, he says after some consideration. “He’d probably describe me as very anal. Not an !#+$%#$! Just very anal! You know, Trace and I are like brothers. Do you have a friend like that? They’re just completely silent and you know everything they’re thinking? That’s what he is – he’s like a brother to me. So he’d probably describe me as always being about details”.

He’s relaxed and shows no sign of nerves at the thought of wowing 10,000 screaming fans in an hour or so. Having been performing since his early teens, he’s an entertainment pro. Yet he’s noticeably pained and stuttering when he senses discussion edging towards his private life.

He’d much rather talk about the artists he loves – notably Donny Hathaway, Jeff Buckley and Elliot Smith – even as he shivers at the realisation that they all died young, in tragic circumstances. About how his half-brother Jonathan, 13, is a bit of a Mini-Me, extremely musical and curious. “We both got it from our father” – in his youth, dad was a bluegrass musician. And about how growing up in Memphis – a crucible, a crossroads, of music – has helped make him a pop-slash-R&B-slash-everything crossover sensation.

“It’s so funny: even people from New York or Los Angeles, even Chicago, anywhere north of where I grew up, they just don’t get it. I had that problem – well, it wasn’t a problem, but I got that label on my first record – ‘Oh, he’s doing black music’. I’m like, you guys just don’t understand where I come from. Where I grew up there’s two kinds of music – there’s good music and there’s bad music. To be from a city where Dr Martin Luther King was assassinated, [and] in the South there was so much racial tension and there still is… But the equal and opposite reaction of that is in the music. Even back in the Seventies, look at Stax – that was white and black people coming together to just make good music”.

A short while later, laidback Timberlake has transformed himself. Standing in the raised centre of an elaborate stage placed in the middle of the arena floor, he’s flanked by 21 dancers, backing vocalists and musicians, deafened by the screams of the crowd. Over the next two hours he plays a variety of instruments and dances, sings and whips up a storm. It’s a proper showbiz spectacular, entirely orchestrated by Timberlake. Little wonder Hollywood holds no fear.

“I’d like to do a comedy”, he had said earlier of his ongoing film ambitions. “But it has to be perfect. Even comedies, at the end of the day they have something of substance to involve the plot. I’d like to work with Will Smith on something in the comedy genre. I think it would be funny if we were biological brothers. Let’s kick that idea around Hollywood and see if anybody bites!”

I see him briefly after the show when he pops into the production office. Someone’s left a gift, a guitar from Elvis Presley’s bandmate Scotty Moore. Timberlake, another Memphis boy made good, is chuffed beyond belief.

But he was bummed by the show, he says. The sound mix of the myriad instruments and computers that fed into his ears via tiny headphones was ropey. It was down to the venue and the equipment – which is ironic, he chuckles, as we were in a venue named after a telecoms company. It wasn’t down to the mix. It couldn’t have been. Perfectionist jack-of-all trades Justin Timberlake had done the mix himself.

Justin Timberlake plays the SECC, Glasgow, May 23. www.justintimberlake.com

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