“She is the single-handedly most significant person in my life,” Justin Timberlake tells Vanity Fair contributing editor Vanessa Grigoriadis of recent ex-girlfriend Jessica Biel. “In my 30 years, she is the most special person, O.K.? … I don’t want to say much more, because I have to protect things that are dear to me—for instance, her. So I protect it, and until somebody shows me what would be more fulfilling at this point, that’s what I have to do. I would rather not talk about her, because it’s hurtful for me. It’s unfortunate that even though you make the effort to say something, which I tried on for size, people do what they want to do.”
Timberlake reveals that he wants a family some day, but that “as little as six months ago I wouldn’t have even thought about that, but now it feels like a closer planet orbiting around.” Of marriage, the musician turned actor explains what he feels is an uphill battle: “I think the mistake is that people commit to who that person is right then and not the person they’re going to become. That’s the art of staying together, is changing together,” he says. “When you say it like that, it seems damn near impossible, right?”
“Why do you think we all like each other?” Timberlake asks of why celebrities—him included—so often date other celebrities. “Why do you think we wind up dating each other, and feeling more comfortable around each other? We understand what it’s like. ‘Oh, thank God—finally, somebody who knows how I feel.’ It’s refuge.”
Of his arguably most famous ex-girlfriend, Britney Spears, Timberlake tells Grigoriadis, “I wish her the best—that goes without saying. We haven’t spoken in 9 or 10 years.” The former child star says that most of his and Spears’s relationship was based on circumstance, but had no chance for the long term. “We were two birds of the same feather—small-town kids, doing the same thing. But then you become adults, and the way you were as kids doesn’t make any sense. I won’t speak on her, but at least for me, I was a totally different person,” he says. “I just don’t think we were normal; there was nothing normal about our existence. We spent way too much time being the biggest thing for teenyboppers.”
“It was exciting that we were having so much success and we could do whatever we wanted. And I mean that about everybody: Backstreet Boys, ’NSync, Britney, Christina,” Timberlake says of his early years as a pop idol. “At that time, we could literally go, ‘Oh, man, let’s go to Bali,’ and we’d be on a plane to Bali. We were little kids with big toys. You do the math—that’s not going to last.” Some very big toys, indeed, as Timberlake recalls that on the set of The All-New Mickey Mouse Club, “Ryan [Gosling] and I used to steal golf carts and go driving in the middle of the park to get milk shakes, and we never got in trouble for it. We thought we were big shit.”
Timberlake says that while he has no new plans for music on the horizon (“I wouldn’t say I’m not going to put out another [album]. I would say that would be a bad bet, if you were betting. But I could see myself only doing one more big tour”), he does have a spate of new movies coming out, including Friends with Benefits with co-star Mila Kunis.
As for the sex scene in the film, Kunis says when given the choice, she and Timberlake decided to film it at the last possible moment. “We figured that by then we’d really, hopefully, be friends, which is what happened,” says Kunis. “It’s always uncomfortable to do those scenes … You have to be in these crazy positions for 12 to 16 hours. I’ll never forget when Justin had to be on top of me with his right hand on my left pasty and his left hand on my right pasty—my feet were getting numb, and I think his hands were giving out on him. It was a workout.”
Of her co-star’s nudity in Benefits, Kunis says, “The men never have to do anything, and we’re always seeing the boobies of the ladies. So for this one, [director] Will [Gluck] said, ‘O.K., Justin can show himself off,’ which I thought was great.” “It was fun,” Timberlake agrees, “but I can’t say I’m going to be butt-naked in a movie again. I only did it because I’m young now, and everything’s where it’s supposed to be. I figured this is the time, before gravity gets the best of me.”
The July issue of Vanity Fair hits newsstands in New York and L.A. on Thursday, June 2, and nationally and on the iPad on Tuesday, June 7.