Justin Timberlake brought sexy back—or so he says—to the pop charts after ditching boy band 'N Sync and going out on his own. The thing that surprised people is that Timberlake is actually a decent actor and has proven so time and time again in a variety of roles. Today, his recent romantic comedy Friends with Benefits is getting a special Friday release on DVD and Blu-ray on an unusual weekend during which there are no major theatrical openings. In Friends with Benefits, Timberlake plays an art director who is wooed by executive recruiter Mila Kunis to move to New York and work at GQ. They agree to have sex without emotional involvement or other entanglements, but we all know how that turns out both on- and offscreen. Both Timberlake and Kunis provide commentary on the DVD and Blu-ray, which also include deleted scenes, an on-set featurette, trivia track and more.
Timberlake's first film appearance was a cameo as a valet in 2000's Longshot, which only made it to the big screen in Germany and went straight to DVD here. Next, Timberlake played a makeup artist in the lame rom-com On the Line—a movie that pushed fellow 'N Sync-ers Lance Bass and Joey Fatone as the leading men instead. Really? Although the 2005 crime thriller Edison went straight to video, too, at least Timberlake got to brush elbows with more seasoned actors than his former bandmates like Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey, Dylan McDermott and Cary Elwes.
After a wobbly start, Timberlake began to catch fire as an actor. In the 2007 crime drama Alpha Dog, Timberlake made an impression as Frankie "Nuts" Ballenbacher, the best friend of Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch)—a young drug dealer in Claremont, California who gets his gang of friends caught up with events that lead to kidnapping and murder. Timberlake plays the boyfriend of nymphomaniac Christina Ricci in the controversial Black Snake Moan, a steamy Southern-fried tale in which Samuel L. Jackson chains Ricci to a radiator so she can cool off her bits while Timberlake is out of town. The "Sexy Back" singer also narrates the sci-fi comedy-drama Southland Tales and plays an Iraq War veteran who gets to perform a musical number.
Timberlake has never been a baritone, but he can make a somewhat scary baby voice that has been put to good use in several animated features. In Shrek the Third, Timberlake voices Arthur "Artie" Pendragon—the heir apparent (besides Shrek) to the throne of Far Far Away. Timberlake reprised his role in Shrek Forever After, but the scene was deleted. In Yogi Bear, Timberlake voiced Yogi's worried sidekick, Boo-Boo Bear, as the two work overtime to save Jellystone Park from developers.
David Fincher cast Timberlake as Napster founder Sean Parker in The Social Network and gave the pop star the best acting role of his career so far. Timberlake plays Parker like a smarmy manipulator who is high on the fumes of his own success and eager to jump onboard the Facebook bandwagon. Parker ingratiated himself into Mark Zuckerberg's life and gently—almost subconsciously—encouraged Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) to ditch Facebook cofounder Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield).
We think Timberlake is best when he goes for laughs, as evidenced by his several "D**k in a Box" skits on Saturday Night Live. In the ridiculous 2008 Mike Myers comedy The Love Guru, Timberlake plays Jacques "Le Coq" Grandé—a character with a name alone that elicits cheap giggles. Timberlake was also a hoot as Scott Delacorte in Bad Teacher, in which he plays a wealthy substitute teacher that the gold-digging titular character played by Cameron Diaz—Timberlake's real-life ex—sets her sights on.