Justin Timberlake was recently nominated for his first Academy Award, and the 36-year-old has opened up about being famous for twenty years, why the group that launched him into superstardom went into a hiatus, and why he doesn’t keep up with Mouseketeers past.
He went to an open call in a Memphis mall when he was in the fourth grade. Talent scouts were looking for potential contestants for Ed McMahon’s Star Search. He didn’t make the cut, but he eventually found his way to another audition for The New Mickey Mouse Club. This time, he got the part, and he performed with future stars Britney Spears, Keri Russell and Christina Aguilera, and he even bunked with an 11-year-old Ryan Gosling. Unfortunately, he and Gosling have not kept up the relationship. He explained to The Hollywood Reporter, “We aren’t the closest of friends, for whatever reason. We were at the age when you just soak in everything,” says Timberlake. “We were taking acting classes, music classes, dance classes. We were learning how coverage and editing and cinematography work. And being put in front of a live audience, learning how to engage the crowd to get a laugh. Honestly, it was like SNL for children.”
Timberlake transitioned from Mouseketeer to being a member of one of the most popular music groups of the ’90s. In 1996, NYSNC released their first album, and just a few years later were headlining the Super Bowl Halftime Show. They announced a “hiatus” in 2002, and have only made brief appearances since. Timberlake revealed why the band decided to take a break saying, “We were on a stadium tour, and I just felt like the whole thing was too big. It started as a fun snowball fight that was becoming an avalanche. And, also, I was growing out of it. I felt like I cared more about the music than some of the other people in the group. And I felt like I had other music I wanted to make and that I needed to follow my heart.”
Timberlake’s interview appears in the February 17th issue of The Hollywood Reporter.