Justin Timberlake aparece en el número de julio de la revista Vanity Fair, que llegará a los quioscos de Estados Unidos el próximo 7 de junio. El actor posó para una serie de sugerentes pero sofisticadas fotografías con la modelo Lara Stone, con un estilo retro de principios de 1960.
«Preferiría no hablar de ella porque es doloroso para mí», dijo en la entrevista acerca de su ex novia, la actriz Jessica Biel. «En mis 30 años ella es la persona más especial de mi vida». El cantante también habló acerca de su nueva película «Friends With Benefits», la familia, el matrimonio, Britney Spears, su carrera musical — «Yo no diría que no voy a sacar otro álbum. Diría que eso sería una mala apuesta, si tu apostaras», reconociendo irónicamente que próximamente podremos disfrutar de su nuevo disco.
Justin Timberlake on Jessica Biel, Britney Spears, and Filming Friends With Benefits
«She is the single-handedly most significant person in my life», Justin Timberlake tells Vanity Fair contributing editor Vanessa Grigoriadis of recent ex-girlfriend Jessica Biel. «In my 30 years, she is the most special person, O.K.? … I don’t want to say much more, because I have to protect things that are dear to me—for instance, her».
Timberlake reveals that he wants a family some day, but that «as little as six months ago I wouldn’t have even thought about that, but now it feels like a closer planet orbiting around». Of marriage, the musician turned actor explains what he feels is an uphill battle: «I think the mistake is that people commit to who that person is right then and not the person they’re going to become. That’s the art of staying together, is changing together», he says. «When you say it like that, it seems damn near impossible, right?»
«Why do you think we all like each other?» Timberlake asks of why celebrities—him included—so often date other celebrities. «Why do you think we wind up dating each other, and feeling more comfortable around each other? We understand what it’s like. ‘Oh, thank God—finally, somebody who knows how I feel’. It’s refuge».
Of his arguably most famous ex-girlfriend, Britney Spears, Timberlake tells Grigoriadis, «I wish her the best—that goes without saying. We haven’t spoken in 9 or 10 years». The former child star says that most of his and Spears’s relationship was based on circumstance, but had no chance for the long term. «We were two birds of the same feather—small-town kids, doing the same thing. But then you become adults, and the way you were as kids doesn’t make any sense. I won’t speak on her, but at least for me, I was a totally different person», he says. «I just don’t think we were normal; there was nothing normal about our existence. We spent way too much time being the biggest thing for teenyboppers».
«It was exciting that we were having so much success and we could do whatever we wanted. And I mean that about everybody: Backstreet Boys, ‘NSync, Britney, Christina», Timberlake says of his early years as a pop idol. «At that time, we could literally go, ‘Oh, man, let’s go to Bali’, and we’d be on a plane to Bali. We were little kids with big toys. You do the math—that’s not going to last». Some very big toys, indeed, as Timberlake recalls that on the set of The All-New Mickey Mouse Club, «Ryan [Gosling] and I used to steal golf carts and go driving in the middle of the park to get milk shakes, and we never got in trouble for it. We thought we were big shit».
Timberlake says that while he has no new plans for music on the horizon («I wouldn’t say I’m not going to put out another [album]. I would say that would be a bad bet, if you were betting. But I could see myself only doing one more big tour»), he does have a spate of new movies coming out, including Friends with Benefits with co-star Mila Kunis.
As for the sex scene in the film, Kunis says when given the choice, she and Timberlake decided to film it at the last possible moment. «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 … You have to be in these crazy positions for 12 to 16 hours. I’ll never forget when Justin had to be on top of me with his right hand on my left pasty and his left hand on my right pasty—my feet were getting numb, and I think his hands were giving out on him. It was a workout».
Of her co-star’s nudity in Benefits, Kunis says, «The men never have to do anything, and we’re always seeing the boobies of the ladies. So for this one, [director] Will [Gluck] said, ‘O.K., Justin can show himself off’, which I thought was great». «It was fun», Timberlake agrees, «but I can’t say I’m going to be butt-naked in a movie again. I only did it because I’m young now, and everything’s where it’s supposed to be. I figured this is the time, before gravity gets the best of me».
The July issue of Vanity Fair hits newsstands in New York and L.A. on Thursday, June 2, and nationally and on the iPad on Tuesday, June 7.
A Free Man in L.A.
Since turning 30, in January, Justin Timberlake has been kicking back, trying to make sense of his wild two-decade ride from the Mickey Mouse Club to music and movie stardom. A very different person now, Timberlake lets Vanessa Grigoriadis in on why he stripped for the camera in Friends with Benefits, what he and Britney Spears shared back in the ‘NSync days, and how the tabloids distorted his split with Jessica Biel.
What shall Justin Timberlake do today, on this overcast Los Angeles afternoon in the middle of spring? He’s been going to sleep early, around 10 p.m., so when he wakes up in his Spanish-style house in the Hollywood Hills, he feels well rested. He crawls out of bed all alone to brush his teeth, take a pee with his two boxer dogs, and make himself a cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich with eggs and sausage. He answers a few e-mails, noodles around on his guitar while absentmindedly watching television, then drives down from the hills to a private gym, where his trainer puts him through a set of plyometrics, a form of leg strengthening that involves moving from squatting to jumping in rapid succession. Timberlake, who is over six feet tall, with luminous blue eyes and a completely unlined face, is devoted to keeping his body in a state of perfection. «I did, like, 10,000 of those jumps today», he deadpans, though I have a feeling he probably did about a tenth of those—still more than most humans could handle.
What next? On that, Timberlake had been undecided until yesterday, when the idea came to mind to visit a museum. He puts on a big nubby wool cap from American Apparel, which makes him look vaguely like a snake charmer from a cold climate, and begins piloting his gleaming Audi R8—a car possessed of so many blingy accoutrements that it feels like riding in a spaceship designed by Gucci—around town. «Right now, I’m not in the mood to work», he says. «I want to not have a schedule. I want to go to the Dodgers game if I feel like it. ‘Hey, do you guys want to play basketball today? Cool, let’s do that’. I’ve never really given myself the opportunity to be spontaneous».
In fact, Timberlake says that since his 30th birthday, at the end of January, for the first time in his life he’s done «nothing», spending most of his time either simply «sitting still», «enjoying the breeze on the top of Mulholland», or, on the other hand, enjoying the Zen state that comes with helicoptering into backcountry snowboarding areas near Yellowstone National Park, where he spent more than a month this winter. «I figure I can go on like this until the end of the year», he says, both hands on the steering wheel, driving slowly and peacefully, like a dowager in a Cadillac. «I don’t have anything I have to do. The only job I have to do is promote the films that are coming out, and I’m really looking forward to that».
You’re looking forward to your junkets?
«Oh yeah», he says, grinning widely. «It will be fun. I’ll get to go to a bunch of countries, hang out». He makes a tight left turn, following traffic. «You know, where I’m at in my life, I’m alone and being in it, in each moment: good, bad, ugly, pretty—all of it, take it as it comes». He takes a deep breath. «It’s a big deal. The fact is, I look back, and I made a lot of choices because I felt I needed to be validated. And I just don’t feel that way anymore».
Timberlake’s current state of non-doing, as the Buddhists might call it, is surprising, because at his age there are few people who have followed as many different, and successful, career paths. By 16 he was the kiddie star of ‘NSync, the best-selling boy band, which still holds the world record for the most albums sold in the space of a week. By 21 he had escaped this pubescent prison to become a solo R&B artist, playing an updated type of free-flowing 70s funk that turned him into an international sex symbol. 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. He has his own tequila, distilled on the agave farms outside of Guadalajara, he hosts a PGA Tour tournament that has raised millions for Shriners Hospitals for Children, and he owns one of the country’s few eco-friendly golf courses, Mirimichi (translated as «Place of Happy Retreat»), in his hometown of Millington, Tennessee. «What can I say?» says Timberlake, shrugging his shoulders. «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. «I needed someone who could be a Frank Sinatra figure, someone who could walk into the room and command all the attention», says David Fincher, of casting Timberlake as Sean Parker, the Facebook investor and rogue, in The Social Network. «I didn’t want someone who would just say, ‘I know how to play groovy’. You can’t fake that stuff. That’s the problem with making movies about a rock star—actors have spent their lives auditioning and getting rejected, and rock stars haven’t». Timberlake takes acting seriously, though. «There’s a lot of downtime on a movie set, and there’s nothing to do except talk, read, or check your phone, but Justin didn’t have a phone on set», says Gene Stupnitsky, co-writer of Bad Teacher. «He didn’t bring it because he didn’t want to have any distractions».
In Friends with Benefits, Timberlake plays an art director at GQ magazine who is so commitment-phobic and obsessed with his work that he won’t get close even with Mila Kunis, playing the sultry headhunter who helped him land the job. «As a naturally career-driven person, it was easy for me to relate to that character, to embrace that problem and make it the obstacle he’s trying to overcome», says Timberlake. Kunis and Timberlake met for the first time in the lobby of the Chateau Marmont last spring, with the director of the film, Will Gluck. They agreed to re-write the script together in 20-page blocks, in sessions at Gluck’s office and house. They also agreed that the script needed to be hotter. «It was originally supposed to be a PG-13 movie», says Timberlake. «That was crazy to me. How do you make a movie called Friends with Benefits and not embrace the title?»
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. They chose the last possible moment. «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. «You have to be in these crazy positions for 12 to 16 hours. I’ll never forget when Justin had to be on top of me with his right hand on my left pasty and his left hand on my right pasty—my feet were getting numb, and I think his hands were giving out on him. It was a workout».
Unlike most romantic comedies, Friends with Benefits often trains its camera on the man’s body, not the woman’s. «The men never have to do anything, and we’re always seeing the boobies of the ladies», says Kunis. «So for this one, Will said, ‘O.K., Justin can show himself off’, which I thought was great». Timberlake’s body is his temple, so he didn’t mind: for his role in The Social Network, for example, he lost 17 pounds in two weeks on a shake diet, and when he found out that he’d be on display in Friends with Benefits, he switched to a diet of five tiny meals a day prepared by an organic chef. «It was fun, but I can’t say I’m going to be butt-naked in a movie again», says Timberlake. «I only did it because I’m young now, and everything’s where it’s supposed to be. I figured this is the time, before gravity gets the best of me».
Timberlake entrusts his Audi to the valet at the sidewalk outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, then starts to make his way into the building. «I wish that when I was touring the world as a teenager I would have spent more time going to museums rather than spending all of my time just eating food», he says, his eyes lighting up at an exhibition of David Smith metal sculptures, a series of orbs and limbs that rest upon one another without an apparent regard for gravity. He recently bought a painting by Banksy, whose works sell in the neighborhood of $50,000 to $100,000—»I split it with a friend, so we each get to keep it for a little while»—and went to the opening of Jeffrey Deitch’s street-art show at MOCA downtown. «I saw so many people I hadn’t seen in a while», he says. «Some you’re happy about, and others … »
After following the maze of a steel Richard Serra sculpture around and around («I feel like this is a bad dream I might have had», says Timberlake) and stopping for a moment at a photograph of Elizabeth Taylor («What a regal woman») and a drawing with the words «I can’t imagine ever wanting to be white» («Isn’t that the truth», he says, nodding), Timberlake is recognized by a bunch of West London schoolkids in the States for an art tour. «If I don’t turn around, maybe they’ll think, That was just a guy who looks like him», whispers Timberlake.
No such luck, as a boy in a plaid shirt, with matching cap, leads the charge of 30 or so peroxided tweens, all of them giggling and pointing. «I’d like to ask for your autograph», says the boy boldly, handing over his sketchpad. He stares at Timberlake, who signs «Be creative!» with a flourish, then he scampers away. Timberlake laughs. «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. «That would be how I would have told it. ‘I just walked up to Michael Jordan and I said, «What’s up, man?» I didn’t freak out … ‘ »
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. «I didn’t fit in as a kid», he says. «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. The boy seemed to share some qualities with his dad. By 11, Timberlake had appeared on Star Search, singing Alan Jackson’s «Love’s Got a Hold on You». (The video of him crooning that tune in a thimble-size cowboy hat has become a YouTube staple.) He lost at the taping in Orlando, but the trip’s reward was still in the offing. «On the drive back home from Florida, we saw a commercial on a motel TV for auditions for the Mickey Mouse Club the next day in a town called Hendersonville, Tennessee», he recalls. «We went to some random office space, and I danced to an MC Hammer song».
Within a couple of months, Timberlake was in Orlando with The All-New Mickey Mouse Club’s «whole cast of characters», as he likes to call them: Ryan Gosling, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, J. C. Chasez. (Jessica Simpson made the callbacks, but not the final cut.) «Ryan and I used to steal golf carts and go driving in the middle of the park to get milk shakes, and we never got in trouble for it», he says. «We thought we were big shit». The Disney Channel show was canceled after two seasons, and Timberlake was crushed. «When the Mouseketeers closed down, I think it was a big blow for all those kids», says Cameron Diaz, who dated Timberlake a half-decade ago. «They were doing something that they loved, in a place where they felt like they were with like kinds, like they belonged, for the first time. And there was an emptiness there, when it was over, for Justin, and always a need to get that back and find a place where he could keep creating more and more opportunities for himself».
In 1995, Timberlake convinced his mother that they should move to L.A. so that he could try out for sitcoms, but a month before they were to leave, she got a call from someone who wanted Timberlake for a new boy band in Orlando. They went down there without expectations but soon became convinced that the band, ‘NSync, could work. The country was riding the wave of Disney stars and R&B boy bands. «It was exciting that we were having so much success and we could do whatever we wanted», he says. «And I mean that about everybody: Backstreet Boys, ‘NSync, Britney, Christina. At that time, we could literally go, ‘Oh, man, let’s go to Bali’, and we’d be on a plane to Bali We were little kids with big toys. You do the math—that’s not going to last». As usual in a boy band, one guy stood out, and Timberlake was the one (though Chasez was pretty adorable, too). And then he started dating Spears. «We were two birds of the same feather—small-town kids, doing the same thing», he says. «But then you become adults, and the way you were as kids doesn’t make any sense. I won’t speak on her, but at least for me, I was a totally different person». He pauses. «I just don’t think we were normal; there was nothing normal about our existence. We spent way too much time being the biggest thing for teenyboppers». Timberlake says that he hasn’t been in touch with Spears in a long time. «I wish her the best—that goes without saying», he says. «We haven’t spoken in 9 or 10 years».
Anyway, everything was going great with ‘NSync back then, except for the machinations of Trans Continental Records president Lou Pearlman, a middle-aged butterball with an unsavory teen-hit-making factory. «We always knew he was a little off, but it wasn’t until we got our first checks for an album that sold 12 million copies that we were like, ‘Hmm, does yours say the same thing? Is that missing a zero?’ » Pearlman had claimed he was only taking one-sixth of their earnings. (He liked to call himself «the sixth member» of ‘NSync.) «Little did he tell us that he was doing a lot of double-dipping on the contracts», says Timberlake. «We were signed through his company to RCA, so he was getting 50 percent right there, and then there were all these weird things going on with our recoupables: he put everything on them—dinner, plane tickets, even a birthday present he bought me». In 1999, Pearlman sued ‘NSync, who countersued. The case was settled out of court.
By 2002, Timberlake was ready to move on. Lance Bass was in Russia for an astronaut program, and Timberlake figured this was a good time for him to make a solo play. He partnered with Pharrell, one half of the producing team the Neptunes, and Timbaland. «Pharrell was doing songs for Michael [Jackson], and then Michael was turning them down left and right», says Timberlake. «So Pharrell got to that point where he was doing verses and a chorus, but he wasn’t going to write the whole song, because he had really been putting his heart into this work. And then there I was».
In the flash of an eye, Timberlake rebranded himself from an Orlando dude in all-denim outfits, gelled hair, and two-tone pastel sunglasses into a sex symbol. «I was willing to play that part», he says. «I’m not saying I didn’t go home and question all my moves, but at the time I was 21, and I had the biggest producers in the world telling me that this is going to change music, so I was like, Oh, man, maybe this is good, maybe this doesn’t suck». (Within a couple years, Timberlake made headlines for ripping off Janet Jackson’s bodice, exposing her «nipple shield», at the Superbowl—he called it a «wardrobe malfunction», the first use of the term in popular culture. Today, he says that, although he’s «apologized for it a thousand times», in «hindsight, I probably should have been more pro-artist instead of trying to please everyone. ‘The F.C.C. is pissed—oh, man, what do we need to do?’ Today, I might have said, ‘Screw that’. «)
His first album, Justified, put Timberlake at the beginning of a huge music career, but, shockingly enough, since then he’s made only one album, FutureSex/LoveSounds—in which he brought sexy back. (When asked if he would ever perform in a reunion tour with ‘NSync, as the Backstreet Boys have, he immediately shakes his head.) «Look, Jay-Z has put out 11 albums, and I was talking about doing a collaboration with him, and he said, ‘I can’t do it right now, but I’ll get you on the next album’, » Timberlake says. «I was like, ‘No, man, I don’t work like that. This sounded good to me for you and me to do together, and if it doesn’t work, then I totally get it, but I won’t be putting an album out next year; these aren’t a dime a dozen to me’. Now, he’s one of the top five M.C’.s of all time, so it’s not like his albums are a dime a dozen, but that’s just not how I work. I wouldn’t put out 11 albums. I’ve only done two and I’m 30». Will he work on another one soon? «I really don’t know», says Timberlake, then smiles. «I wouldn’t say I’m not going to put out another one. I would say that would be a bad bet, if you were betting. But I could see myself only doing one more big tour».
In fact, he says that appearing in films has helped him realize that his future doesn’t lie exclusively in music. «At first, I thought, Oh, man, people are going to think I’m the entitled guy who does music and then comes over to do movies, and I worried about things being misunderstood», he says. «Film is much more communal, in both good and bad ways—everyone talks about other people more, but then again no one in music gossips much, because everyone’s so incredibly narcissistic that they only want to talk about themselves». He deeply enjoys acting, and sees it as a way of getting in touch with himself. «It’s like going to therapy», he says. «You ask yourself all these questions, and until you answer them for yourself, you can’t really answer them as a character, because you have to find a way to get in there, and the only way to get in there is to go in there». And for Timberlake, this is a big deal. «I really don’t have a hard shell», he says. «I don’t have the shell for a lot of things». He sighs. «I just recently saw a documentary called Still Bill, about [R&B singer-songwriter] Bill Withers, and for the first time I felt like somebody spoke for me about how I feel about music. He says, ‘People keep asking me why did I stop, but I never stopped doing music. I just started doing other things. I started living my life’. »
After the museum, Timberlake heads to a tiny Indian restaurant in Hollywood that he says is his «secret spot». («I’m the guy who everyone always asks for restaurant recommendations», he says. «I keep up on that stuff».) He looks behind him, checking to see if there are any paparazzi in his wake; there was a guy on him earlier, when he went to the gym. «I got out of the car and said, ‘Hey, man, you’re driving erratically, and you’re scaring me, and as soon as I feel scared, I’m going to fight back. I don’t want that type of situation’. I think he saw the point. Hopefully». He stares out the rear window. «It is the bane of my existence. If I knew a way to be creatively fulfilled and starve that beast, I would, because I sure don’t feed it».
Over a Taj Mahal beer and vegetable Samosas, Timberlake talks about getting a rough ride with the paps and the tabloids. His three major relationships—each of which lasted about four years, with Spears, Diaz, and Jessica Biel—have been tabloid staples. In these magazines, Timberlake is portrayed as an arrogant cad who can’t commit, and his girlfriends as «jealous» and «enraged» when he moves on (which provides a nifty excuse for the magazines to run sidebars like «How to Deal When Your Ex Starts Dating First»).
«When we were together was the moment that the tabloids sort of exploded», says Diaz, «and there was this craze for couples, like Brad and Angelina, Tom and Katie. The paparazzi formed a lot of relationships with people who needed them, like the new celebutantes, and they tortured people who didn’t want them around». Timberlake says, «I shut them down mentally in my mind—that’s my coping mechanism. When I’m at the checkout counter of Whole Foods, I literally don’t look below anybody’s waist, because that’s where all those magazines are».
It’s interesting to realize that the real Timberlake, such a sensitive guy, could not be further from those portraits. He talks about his feelings on this at length, to the point where I try to console him by reminding him, «Well, you’re not the only one they pick on». «Oh, I know», he says. «Why do you think we all like each other? Why do you think we wind up dating each other, and feeling more comfortable around each other? We understand what it’s like. ‘Oh, thank God—finally, somebody who knows how I feel’. It’s refuge».
Timberlake and Biel broke up a few months ago, and it seems that his pensive state today most likely has something to do with this, though he won’t say so directly. «I would rather not talk about her, because it’s hurtful for me», he says. They released a joint statement about their breakup, but the tabloids still took sides and assigned blame. «It’s unfortunate that even though you make the effort to say something, which I tried on for size, people do what they want to do», says Timberlake. «I don’t want to say much more, because I have to protect things that are dear to me—for instance, her. She is the single-handedly most significant person in my life. In my 30 years, she is the most special person, O.K.? So I protect it, and until somebody shows me what would be more fulfilling at this point, that’s what I have to do».
With a breakup at 30, it’s hard not to think that it doesn’t have something to do with marriage, or the lack of a desire to have one. Does he want to get married? «I don’t know», says Timberlake. «If that’s what it takes for two people to make it official, then yeah, but I think that my generation looks at marriage differently». Doesn’t he want a family? He’s silent for a while. «I do», he says. «And as little as six months ago I wouldn’t have even thought about that, but now it feels like a closer planet orbiting around».
Timberlake’s cousin and a friend come into the restaurant, slipping in beside him on a banquette. They’re planning to hang out tonight at his house, printing some of their photographs—taking black-and-white photos is another hobby of Timberlake’s. They razz him about being a «jock», «such a dude», and way too neat, exhibiting almost O.C.D. tendencies on cleanliness. «When I was younger, I’d get one pair of Air Jordans a year to play basketball in, only one pair, and my thing was that they had to be spotless, so I’d clean them with a toothbrush», says Timberlake. «I had two toothbrushes: one for my teeth, and one for my shoes».
They also ask him what we’ve been talking about. «We talked a little about marriage», says Timberlake, nodding slowly. «I said that I think the mistake is that people commit to who that person is right then and not the person they’re going to become. That’s the art of staying together, is changing together». Timberlake has been so good at changing gears professionally, but this is harder. He shakes his head. «When you say it like that, it seems damn near impossible, right?»
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