Notorious for spearheading the "teen pop revolution" of the mid to late '90s, alongside Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and others (and the inheritor of superstardom from male heartthrobs of earlier generations such as David Cassidy and Donny Osmond), Justin Timberlake attained a reputation as one of the pop music scene's most talked about celebs. He also became a source of constant tabloid fodder -- not only for his relationships with Spears, Cameron Diaz, and others, but for his allegedly unbridled private life.
Timberlake launched his career as a youngster on the Mickey Mouse Club set, then made his name as a member of *NSYNC and as a soloist before branching out into films in the very early 2000s. As an actor, he began small, with a cameo appearance in the Ben Stiller-directed Zoolander -- an off-the-wall farce about a bunch of inane male models led by Stiller and Owen Wilson. While Timberlake's walk-on was a bit part at most, the exposure helped him expand his range and his repertoire, while the subject of the film coyly spoofed his public image. Small-screen appearances on The Osbournes and Saturday Night Live followed, but it wasn't until 2005 that the then 24-year-old Timberlake became a top-billed movie star. In that year's Edison Force, in which Timberlake co-starred with movie giants Kevin Spacey and Morgan Freeman, the former teen idol played Joshua Pollack, a straight-faced, straight-arrow journalist determined to take on a league of crooked rollers. The picture was released straight to DVD in late 2006 and earned tepid reviews.
The singer upped his film appearances in 2006, with a plethora of first-run roles. He stuck to the crime thriller genre with his follow-up to Edison, Alpha Dog (2006). Directed by Nick Cassavetes (She's So Lovely, John Q.) from his own script, the picture stars Emile Hirsch (The Girl Next Door) as an über-powerful drug dealer who kidnaps a youngster to collect a ransom the boy's older brother's tab; Timberlake plays one of Hirsch's henchmen, who inducts the tyke into the wild side of life. In 2007's Black Snake Moan, Timberlake plays the boyfriend of Christina Ricci's nympho Rae -- a girl who becomes the hostage of an aging African-American blues musician (Samuel L. Jackson). Timberlake also appears in a supporting role in Southland Tales (2006, directed by Donnie Darko's Richard Kelly) and voices the rebellious prince Artie (a young King Arthur) alongside longtime paramour Diaz in 2007's Shrek the Third. In 2008 he played potent hockey player Jacque "Le Coq" Grande in Mike Myers comedy The Love Guru, but he scored the most high-profile success of his film career in 2010 when he played Napster founder Sean Parker in David Fincher's award-winning Facebook film The Social Network. He followed that up in 2011 with the romantic comedy Friends With Benefits and the sci-fi film In Time. The next year he appeared in the Coen brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi