Timberlake On *NSYNC, Acting & Bringing Sexy Back
Note: Audio for this story:
. Justin on Fresh Air NPR (transcript)
. Justin on Fresh Air NPR (transcript)
Justin Timberlake has come a long way from the first time he stepped on a stage at the age of 8.
“My mother sort of makes this joke that she’s surprised that I know what she looks like, because up until I … first stepped onto a stage, all I did was look down at my feet,” explains Timberlake. “As soon as I discovered the stage, it brought out a lot in me that I didn’t know I had. And it did it at a very young age, and it was one of the most fun things that I could ever do.”
The versatile performer has since proven that he can sing — he’s produced several hit solo albums, including Justified and FutureSex/LoveSounds — after leading the 1990s boy band *NSync to become the third-highest selling boy band of all time. And he’s demonstrated his acting chops, performing in both comedic and dramatic roles.
Several digital shorts from his appearances on Saturday Night Live, including “Dick in a Box” and “Motherlover,” have become viral Internet sensations, while his recent performance as Napster founder Sean Parker in David Fincher’s The Social Networkwas lauded by both The New York Times and The New Yorker; in the latter, David Denby wrote that Timberlake’s “charm and physical dynamism … torque the movie even higher.”
Timberlake’s success on the stage started when he was just 11 years old. He appeared on Star Search, then successfully auditioned for a part on the Disney Channel series The New Mickey Mouse Club alongside future stars Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and JC Chasez, who would become his bandmate in the boy band group *NSync.
“When you’re a kid and things like that happen, and it happens so fast, you can’t help but feel like something great was happening for you,” he tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “But I look back on it and I think it was more of a fluke than anything.”
From The New Mickey Mouse Club, Timberlake went to *NSync, eventually performing at the Oscars, the World Series, the Super Bowl and the Olympics — and recording with Aerosmith, Michael Jackson, Elton John and Celine Dion, among others. From there he launched a solo career, releasing hits “Rock Your Body,” “My Love,” and “SexyBack,” which became his first No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 and won the Best Dance Recording at the 2007 Grammy Awards.
Timberlake tells Terry Gross that he’s not exactly sure where the lyric “I’m bringing sexy back” came from — and that he occasionally regrets writing it that way.
“People feel like it’s an extension of who I am, but … when I get the opportunity to tell them I was playing a character, sometimes they get it and sometimes they don’t,” he says. “For whatever reason, when we started recording it, I wanted the vocal to almost slap you in the face. I wanted it to sound distorted. … Originally the song wasn’t going to be called that. … I thought that was too on the nose. [But] the more I played it for people around me, that’s what they called it.”
Timberlake says that in spite of his achievements — he’s earned six Grammys and two Emmys, among other accolades — he still attributes the bulk of his success to his mother, who made sure he was comfortable and aware of his place in the world.
“I remember her saying ‘If you have the ability to do something, one or two things great, it doesn’t mean that you’re a better person than anyone else.’ And I think I’ve held onto that,” he says.
What matters more to him than trophies, he says, are “comments from people who say ‘You’ve helped me through a rough time,’ or [people] saying that you made them laugh or something — that something you did was great, rather than materialistic awards or things like that.”
“Everything that we did was based around a cappella harmonies. That’s what we wanted to be in the beginning, an a cappella group. So that is why we put five guys in the group. When we were forming the group, there wasn’t a boy-band phenomenon. Nirvana and Pearl Jam were probably the top two acts in the world at the time, so we never knew at what capacity everything was going to work out for us. I don’t think we thought it was going to be as big as it became.
Check out the rest of this GREAT article at JT4Breakfast and NPR for the audio. I can’t wait to listen to it!