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