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Jul. 26 2010 - 5:10 am | 672 views | 0 recommendations | 6 comments

Justin Timberlake’s status update: ‘Will the Facebook movie make me more than just the next King of Pop?’

Singer Justin Timberlake runnning.

No strings attached: Timberlake races to world domination

I’ve always thought of Justin Timberlake as the second coming of Michael Jackson. Like the late, great King of Pop, Timberlake started out as the lead singer and youngest member of a hugely successful boy group, and emerged as the breakout star with a solo career that transcended his boy-band origins.

The parallels only begin there: As a solo artist, Timberlake has racked up multiple Grammy nominations (and six Grammys), including Album of the Year nods for both of his solo works, 2002’s Justified and 2006’s Future Sex/Love Sounds; he sings, he writes, he creates hits for other artists; he takes his cool sweet time making albums; and he’s the greatest dancer.

But Justin Timberlake might be en route to a place where Michael Jackson was never able to get to: movie stardom. Over the past decade, while dating movie stars (Cameron Diaz and Jessica Biel), he’s been slowly building his Hollywood resume, with supporting roles in EdisonAlpha Dog and Shrek the Third, and two Emmy wins. Come October 1, he’s poised to ascend to level two with his supporting role in the David Fincher-directed Facebook drama The Social Network. Jesse Eisenberg may have the lead, as Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, but Timberlake nabbed the pivotal role of Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster who went on to become Facebook’s first president.

Some Oscar bloggers already are putting Timberlake on the shortlist for a best supporting actor nomination, and considering Fincher’s recent track record, it’s not entirely implausible. His last film, 2008’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, was a $127.5 million hit and the long-acclaimed director’s Oscar breakthrough, scoring 13 Academy Award nominations, including acting citations for Brad Pitt and Taraji P. Henson. Also on the creative team: Emmy-winning writer Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing), who wrote the screenplay, and Oscar winners Kevin Spacey and Scott Rudin (No Country for Old Men) as producers. (Incidentally, by working with Fincher, Timberlake has walked even farther in the King of Pop’s moonwalking shoes: Fincher directed Jackson’s 1993 video “Who Is It.”)

It’s too early to tell for sure, but the trailer (see below) is intriguing, and Fincher’s films are usually well received critically. A strong commercial run is almost a no-brainer, given the zeitgeist subject matter, and if it plays well with the critics groups throughout Oscar season, it would have a good shot at one of the 10 Best Picture slots, and Timberlake easily could be carried along on the wave of adoration.

Though he’s got a long way to go before he joins the hallowed $20 million-a-film club, Timberlake will continue to move up the Hollywood food chain. His next project, after voicing Boo-Boo Bear in the upcoming Yogi Bear (December 17), is a leading role in the romantic comedy Friends with Benefits, which he began filming this month in New York City with Mila Kunis — soon to improve her own resume with Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. (Guess we’ll have to wait even longer for that new album.) Friends with Benefits doesn’t sound particularly Oscar bait, but it does have a trio of Academy Award nominees among its supporting cast: Woody Harrelson, Richard Jenkins and Patricia Clarkson.

Which goes to show, with talent, smart choices and a little luck, there can be plenty of life after 20 for a former boy-band teen idol.


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    I’m actually really excited to see Timberlake’s movie. I loathed Timberlake when I was a teenager, but now that he is older I adore him.

    His SNL skits being hilarious didn’t hurt.

  2. collapse expand

    Jeremy, thanks for this super informative post. I always learn so much from your info-packed pieces.

    There certainly is something about Justin. I first met him when he was 16 or 17 while recording NSYNC’s holiday album, and he was already taking charge in the studio. He was then, and still is, fearless — not to mention one of the most genuine people you will ever meet. I’ll never forget hearing him address the parents of his then-girlfriend Britney Spears as “Ma’am” and “Sir.” And he hasn’t changed.

    Funny, I’m wondering what’s up with him starring in a film named Friends With Benefits too. But overall, I look forward to watching his film career develop. Though Justin’s not a conventional leading man, you can’t take your eyes off of him. And how exciting to see him in a the Facebook drama. He’s a naturally gifted goof-off, so the SNL stuff seems effortless for him. But the more serious stuff . . . will be interesting to see.

    • collapse expand

      Lori, remember when you and I met up with him in 2002 before the Us Weekly interview, and he and his manager played us “Like I Love You” and “Cry Me a River,” months before the release of Justified? We knew back then that he was going to have a special solo career. I wish he’d release new solo music more often, but I think he was wise to let his film career build slowly.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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