You probably know Justin Timberlake as a world-famous pop singer who first rose to fame in the 90s boy band NSYNC. But over the past two decades, he’s also stealthily been building himself quite the acting resume on the side.
From comedies to dramas to even voice acting, Timberlake has proven he’s got some serious acting chops beyond just singing and dancing. He’s played everything from a charismatic ladies’ man to a fast-talking entrepreneur to a loveable cartoon troll.
Even if you’re not a huge JT fan, you’ve got to admit the man’s career is impressively versatile. So let’s take an entertaining stroll through Justin Timberlake movies to appreciate the surprising depth and range of his filmography.
Starring in Raunchy Romantic Comedies
One of the most common types of roles Timberlake has taken on is as the male lead in romantic comedies. After all, he’s got the charm, the looks, and the innate likability to pull it off.
In 2011’s Friends with Benefits, Timberlake starred opposite Mila Kunis as a young headhunter who gets lured into a casual sexual relationship. Despite some steamy onscreen chemistry between the two, their characters inevitably catch feelings and have to sort out what they really want from each other.
The movie was a major hit, grossing over $150 million at the box office. Audiences loved seeing Timberlake flex his romcom muscles, even in an R-rated storyline.
He took on a similar part in 2011’s Bad Teacher as a substitute teacher who catches the eye of Cameron Diaz’s swear-happy, manipulative titular character. She spends much of the movie shamelessly pursuing Timberlake, who plays a charming but naive coworker.
Again, Timberlake showed he could keep up with a seasoned comedic actress like Diaz and hold his own as an endearing rom-com lead. Not bad for a guy who started out dancing and singing with NSYNC!
Showing Comedic Chops in Wacky Films
Timberlake hasn’t limited himself to just romantic comedies either. He’s also appeared in several over-the-top slapstick comedies and family films that highlighted his talent for physical humor.
In the 2008 comedy The Love Guru, he played a hilarious French-Canadian hockey player opposite Mike Myers. The movie may have been panned by critics, but Timberlake’s outrageous Quebecois accent was arguably one of the highlights.
He also voiced the character of Artie in 2007’s animated blockbuster Shrek the Third, putting his voice acting skills on display as another aspiring king alongside Shrek. Timberlake has said that growing up idolizing cartoons and voice actors helped prepare him for roles like this.
And of course, he’s now best known as the enthusiastic troll Branch in the hugely successful Trolls franchise. His pipes are perfect for belting out dance songs as the cautious but secretly fun-loving Branch learns to embrace his inner joy and positivity. The movies have grossed over $700 million worldwide, introducing Timberlake to a whole new generation of young fans.
So whether it’s wacky comedy, animated hijinks, or even hosting SNL, Timberlake clearly has a gift for garnering laughs in a variety of ways – not just by being a suave leading man.
Venturing into More Serious Dramatic Territory
For those who still viewed Timberlake as mainly a pop star, his daring choice of roles in several independent dramas in the mid-2000s changed many minds.
In 2006’s Alpha Dog, he played a tattooed, drug-dealing gang member who gets embroiled in a tense kidnapping and murder plot. The dark crime story was based on true events and marked a major departure for Timberlake into grittier material.
That same year, he appeared as a mentally troubled young man just out of the military in the Southern gothic tale Black Snake Moan, starring Samuel L. Jackson.
His performance as Napster co-founder Sean Parker in 2010’s The Social Network earned him massive acclaim. Starring opposite Jesse Eisenberg, Timberlake portrayed the slick tech entrepreneur with effortless verve and charisma. He held his own against seasoned actors like Andrew Garfield in the Oscar-nominated film.
With choices like these, Timberlake made it clear he was interested in testing his range as an actor, not just capitalizing on his existing fame.
Showcasing Singing and Dancing Skills
Of course, Timberlake hasn’t abandoned his musical roots altogether when picking film projects. Many of his movies make clever use of his uncanny abilities as a singer, dancer, and entertainer.
The Coen Brothers 2013 drama Inside Llewyn Davis was about the 1960s folk music scene in New York’s Greenwich Village. Timberlake was perfectly cast as a well-meaning but cheesy folk singer who represented the counterpoint to the main character’s seriousness about his art.
Timberlake got to sing several funny “authentic” folk songs while flexing his guitar skills as well. As mentioned earlier, the Trolls movies were basically an excuse for him to belt out dance-pop hits as Branch.
He even managed to squeeze a moonlit Coachella-style musical number into the otherwise dystopian sci-fi film In Time, showing off his smooth moves opposite Amanda Seyfried. Pretty impressive choreography for a grim movie about humanity’s race against the clock!
Timberlake will find just about any excuse to dance or serenade onscreen, even when it doesn’t seem to fit the story. But audiences don’t seem to mind, given his natural showmanship.
Garnering Awards Buzz and Acclaim
While Timberlake’s name may not be the first that comes to mind when listing esteemed Oscar-winning thespians, he has managed to garner significant acclaim for several standout acting performances.
His portrayal of Sean Parker in The Social Network was lauded by critics, and the movie went on to be nominated for 8 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Many felt Timberlake was snubbed not getting a Best Supporting Actor nod from the Oscars.
He did receive a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for the role, however – not bad for someone still early in his film acting career. And he’s won 4 Emmy awards for his appearances on SNL over the years.
Clearly, Timberlake has impressed even veteran film professionals and award voters with his versatility and commitment to taking on unconventional parts. He’s proven he’s not just another pretty face from a boy band looking for easy-acting gigs.
Leaving a Lasting Cultural Legacy
With such a diverse range of memorable film roles under his belt, Timberlake has ensured his impact stretches far beyond just the world of music.
Younger generations may recognize him more as the voice of Branch than for his pop songs with NSYNC. He’s appeared in well-regarded Oscar dramas as well as silly mockumentaries and animated films.
By taking risks and subverting expectations, Timberlake has built an eclectic resume of roles that will leave a true pop culture legacy for years to come.
Other singers like Harry Styles and Lady Gaga are now following the trail Timberlake blazed, trying their hand at serious acting. The image of his tattooed, weed-smoking Alpha Dog character has become iconic and often imitated.
He may never fully shake his reputation as a world-famous pop star and sex symbol. But with such a reliably entertaining track record in comedies, dramas, and everything in between, no one can deny Justin Timberlake’s skills as a versatile big-screen actor.
What Surprises Could Be in Store Next?
Justin Timberlake, the versatile artist, shows no signs of slowing down in his cinematic pursuits.
Recent developments indicate that he is set to take on exciting new roles. He is confirmed to portray Chuck Barris, the iconic host of ‘The Gong Show,’ in an upcoming hour-long biographical drama series for Apple TV+.
While there were rumors about Timberlake’s involvement in the Bee Gees biopic and the second season of ‘Only Murders in the Building,’ these projects haven’t materialized as of our latest information update.
However, there’s a definite buzz around his participation in the concluding chapter of the animated Trolls trilogy, titled ‘Trolls Band Together,’ set to release on November 17, 2023. Given Timberlake’s musical prowess, we can anticipate more opportunities for him to showcase his singing talents on screen.
In the Netflix movie ‘Reptile,’ which was released on September 29, 2023, Timberlake delivers yet another captivating performance.
Furthermore, fans can look forward to a new music album, as Timberlake and Timbaland have recently announced their collaboration on an upcoming album, though a release date remains undisclosed.
In any role or genre, a Justin Timberlake movie promises entertainment and is worth taking a chance on. He continues to prove his versatility and charisma on the big screen, leaving audiences delightfully surprised.
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Team Guitar Top Review Talk about Guitars! We are a group of friends that bonded over their shared love of playing guitar. We all have different backgrounds and experiences with music, but we share a passion for writing about the things that we love.