Justin Timberlake has survived child stardom, a boy band and dating Britney Spears to become the 21st century's white, less crazy answer to Michael Jackson.
Kids do goofy stuff and adults sometimes video it for future blackmail. For most of us, that embarrassing footage is somewhere in our parents' attic. For Justin Timberlake, it was aired on the Disney Channel and is now available on youtube. In 1993, Justin joined the cast of the Mickey Mouse Club, or MMC as it is known on the streets. Young JT was famously joined in the ensemble by other newcomers Britney Spears, Christina Auguilera and Ryan Gosling. (YES. THAT Ryan Gosling. Funny how it never came up in interviews for The Notebook.)
Clockwise From Left: Token, Pre-Hercules the Young Adventures Gosling, Our Golden Boy, Girl Token, That Guy, Xtina, & Britney
Unfortunately for little J, the kids of America soon figured out that a show in which twelve year olds sang adult contemporary hits was not as fun as Sonic the Hedgehog. The Mickey Mouse Club was canceled in 1994 to the sobs of a handful of tween girls. However, Justin's career was not yet over. In fact, he was soon to embark on an even more embarrassing chapter. A year after the Mickey Mouse Club ended, former castmate JC Chasez recruited Timberlake to join a new boy band called 'N Sync.
'N Sync was the brainchild of Lou Pearlman, a fat dude from Orlando who owned a private jet company. Perlman was basically like Jabba the Hutt, except instead of riding Han's ass over a debt, he rode Timberlake and his bandmates' asses all the way to the bank.
Below: Pearlman before his 2008 conviction for running a Ponzi scheme. Stay classy.
Timberlake and Chasez were joined in the group by filler members Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey Fatone and Lance Bass. It soon became clear that the group wasn't going to find success in the states as hip hop and alt rock dominated the charts. So, the boys were packed up with their homoerotic gear and sent to tour Europe--land of Eurovision and ABBA.
Two years later, in 1998, the group finally hit it big in the US with their debut album, *NSYNC. Timberlake quickly shuffled to the center of attention with his frosted curly tips, impressive range and non-threatening good looks. He also made headlines when it was revealed he was dating his "virgin" tourmate and childhood sweetheart Britney Spears.
'N Sync enjoyed considerable success for the next few years. Altogether they sold 55 million albums and made marionettes sexy again. As the group's success continued, Timberlake emerged not only as the breakaway star of the group, but also asserted himself as a songwriter. By 2002, he'd had enough of being tied back by his older, uglier, less talented bandmates and launched a solo career.
In 2002, Justin released his solo debut, Justified. He quickly proved his creativity as an artist by mining his break-up with Britney Spears for the single, "Cry Me a River", and kind of ripping off Michael Jackson's Off the Wall sound in "Rock Your Body". It was at this time that Timberlake also debuted a more mature look, complete with sculpted abs and more adult styling. The girls and gays loved it.
Since then, the guy's kind of been unstoppable. He brought SexyBack and exposed Janet Jackson's nipple at the Super Bowl. He also started collaborating a lot with Timbaland, but not in a gay kind of way. He's recorded music with T.I., Madonna and Ciara and got to make out with Scarlett Johansson in his music video for "What Goes Around.../...Comes Around". Timberlake is also noted as the first celebrity to ever be Punk'd, and was the first celebrity to return to Ashton Kutcher's show to punk another celeb. Which either proves he's got a great sense of humor or knows when to pounce on a trend. Probably a bit of both since he's considered one of the few contemporary celebrities who can host SNL and make it funny, and he's been photographed wearing a fedora.
Timberlake's one real embarrassment in his solo career has been his insistance that he can act. He's appeared in such films as The Love Guru and Southland Tales, and has yet to realize that he can only get cast in shitty films.