Timberlake saunters into the deserted cocktail lounge of the Ritz-Carlton in Phoenix with none of the hype- screaming fans, hoards of paparazzi- that normally surrounds him. In fact, this ‘NSync god of pop is looking downright laid-back in a peck-hugging blue tee, brown cords, and sneakers. But try as he may to downplay his megastar mojo on the outside, inside, that star somethin’ somethin’ slips through, thanks to his azure eyes and the sophisticated sex appeal that oozes out every pore of his formidable 6-foot-one frame.
On a rare day off between concert gigs (he’s promoting ‘Nsync’s latest album, Celebtity, which sold nearly 2 million copies in the first week), Justin’s trying his best to beat the attention he commands wherever he goes- whether onstage or out for a bite with his steady babe, Britney Spears. But at the same time, Justin seems at ease with his celeb status these days. That comes, he says, from finally being his own boss and calling his own shots. “I’m just comfortable being who I am,” he says.
So while he was feeling so at ease, we decided to use the opportunity to get him to confess everything you’ve ever wantd to know about him.
When was the first time you knew you’d made it?
On the new album, Celebrity, we recorded a ballad that Stevie Wonder played harmonica on. When Stevie came in to record it, that’s when I knew I’d made it. I almost cried, just realizing that somebody like him is playing on a song I wrote.
What’s the largest crowd you’ve ever played for?
Besides last year’s Super Bowl, probably Rock in Rio in January. I think there were about 275,000 people who came to see us. It’s pretty incredible when you can’t see the end of the crowd.
What’s the worst thing that ever happened to you onstage?
We were in Detroit on our last tour, and during a song, we flew above the crowd attached to harnesses. I went up there and got stuck. I didn’t come back for several minutes.
What’s your favorite feature of the ‘Nsync tour bus?
I have to say the back lounge is hot. There are nice couches and a recliner. And there’s a ton of candles in the back. I like it when all the lights are out and there’s nothing but candles. It’s like, whew.
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever been asked to autograph?
There must be a ton of wild parites and women throwing themselves at you. Do you ever partake?
It’s easy to get sucked into thinkgs like that. You just have to remember who you are and what’s going to mean the most to you down the road. Are you going to look back and say, yeah, I really had a good time? Is it going to be worth it?
Some people have a tough time dealing with the pressure- like A.J. from the Backstreet Boys, who went into rehab. How do you cope?
I’ve been depressed before. But I never resort to drastic measures. The best thing I do is soak myself into Britney. She’s kind of like my safe haven as far as all of his hoopla goes.
What does Britney do to help you destress?
It’s not so much about helping each other out. We just enjoy each other so much. I just enjoy her.
How do you deal wih the long-distance thing?
You can’t let that come between you. I think it shows a lot of stamina if you can still feel strongly about somebody even though you never see her.
When do you get to spend time together?
We make time. We’re both at the point in our careers where we’re our own bosses, and we’re pretty much self-employed and have the finances to do it. She’s here with me now.
What’s you idea of a perfect date?
Being at home, relaxing with candles. Talking and listening to music. Anything old like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Al Green.
So does Britney have any nicknames for you?
She has a million names for me, some four-letter ones. No, I’m just kidding. We use endearing terms.
How do you guys deal with the sexy videos the other person makes?
That’s probably the weirdest thing, because her sexy video comes on TV and it’s like ‘Am I going to sit there and watch it? No.’ And I’m sure when we’re onstage and dancing with these girls, it doesn’t make her fell like a million dollars. It’s a real test. That’s when you know that you really love someone, when they tell you it doesn’t mean anything and you believe them.
Is it weird to date such an icon?
I don’t know Britney Sears the pop icon. And she doesn’t know Justin Timerlake, that guy from ‘NSync. That’s not the way we look at each other. You could take all this away and I’d still have her. That’s what matters in life.
What’s it like when you go out together in public?
We have to take an army with us- usually three or four bodyguards.
If you could be anonymous for one day, what would you do?
I think the only thing that I can’t do comfortably now is just go out in public alone. But it doesn’t change the way I live my life.
Is it tough to have a social like and be so successful at such a young age?
This business forced me to grow up pretty fast. Don’t get me wrong, I like having a good time. I do things that 20- year-olds do. I’m the total male. I’ve done dumb stuff, and I still do dumb stuff sometimes. I would be lying if I said I haven’t drunk before.
So do you have a fake ID?
No, I don’t. I don’t ever have a problem getting into clubs [laughs].
What do you not understand about women that you wish you did?
I don’t get how you can supposedly be forgiven for a wrongdoing, but you are not really forgiven. Three months later, you will hear about it. I believe if you’re going to forgive somebody, forgive them. Don’t bring it up again. It just shows insecurity.
Tell us about your first kiss.
My first real kiss was in the fifth grade. It was good and lasted several Mississippis.
What’s the most romantic thing a girl’s ever done for you?
Britney surprised me for my birthday and took me away to this remote Caribbean island. We stayed for a week and it was cool. It was spiritual. We felt like there was nobody else on earth. It definitely had a Blue Lagoon vibe to it.
What should women know about men?
Something that women should know is that no, no, no, hell no, we cannot read your minds. I don’t get how women say something that means something else, like “I’m not going to get upset.” You have to think twice, because they probably will get upset. When I say something, damn it, I mean it.
Have you ever played Romeo for Britney?
Yeah. I scored for Christmas. I took her to Aspen. We went snowboarding and skiing. It was just us, shacked up in a cabin.
Are you planning on doing any acting?
There is talk of me starring in the movie version of Rent’s Roger the rock star. But nothing is signed yet.
What is your favorite thing to spend money on?
I collect shoes. I’m a sneaker freak. And I have an obession with cars- I have seven.
What’s your most regrettable fashion statement?
I had the short bleached Eminem hair cut before him. It looks good on him, but it was not working for me. What was I thinking?
What made you cut your curly locks off this time?
One day, I just said, I wonder what I would look like with a shaved head? And I did it.
How many tattoos do you have?
Five. I just got this cross on my left shoulder. But my first one was illegal because I was only 17 when I got it.
Do you worry about the boy-band teenpop explosion dying down?
I can’t tell you what the trend is going to be tomorrow, and I don’t feel that ‘NSync is just a trend. All we can do is the music that we feel. I think it spoils the creativity when you have to take external things into consideration. So my attitude is screw it, just write he song and record it, you know? If it feels good, do it.