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Justin Timberlake On Music, Comedy, And Wearing Out His NPR T-Shirt

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
October 29, 2011

It was almost two years ago now that Justin Timberlake, while filming The Social Network, cemented his place in the NPR collective heart by being photographed wearing our logo across his chest like a tattoo, only fabric, and temporary, and less painful. (Back then, by the way, that shirt wasn’t in our shop. Now, you can have one! It’s with our “best-sellers,” even now.)

On Saturday’s Weekends On All Things Considered, host Guy Raz talks to Timberlake about that shirt — as well as music, comedy, and his new film, In Time, in which he plays a man battling a dark future where time is traded as currency. According to Timberlake, the idea that the rich could literally buy life from the poor is particularly topical given the Occupy Wall Street movement and its concern with “separating class by wealth.” But for the most part, he says he took the role because he admired the character — and all the cool stunts and beautiful women weren’t a hardship, either.

Timberlake’s movie career has been a little spotty, more so than his music career, but his prospects in acting took a giant leap forward when he played Sean Parker in 2010′s The Social Network. The film was so important for him that Timberlake says he often tells friends his business card should say “[director] David Fincher Put Me In A Movie.”

But music and serious acting aren’t Justin Timberlake’s only calling cards — they may, in fact, be secondary in his pop-culture ascendancy to his comedy work (much of which incorporates singing), including highly regarded hosting gigs on Saturday Night Live, hosting the ESPYs for ESPN, and appearances on Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night that have, when posted online, turned into massive viral hits.

Being involved in comedy seems to come naturally, and he believes it does a lot to help people connect with you. “Comedy, in general, is the most disarming,” he says. “It kind of breaks this wall down that I feel like people have because they have some perception of who you might be.”

Speaking of perceptions: About that shirt. “I’m a big fan of many different programs on NPR,” says Mr. Justin Timberlake,”so it wasn’t because I thought it was hip. I actually am a really big fan.” Despite the fact that this comment could be taken to mean he thinks NPR isn’t hip, he follows by making the point that he’s loved the shirt to the point of damage: “I have to get a new one. It’s gotten some wear and tear. I actually wear it a lot.”

And there you have it. Better to be utilitarian than to be hip. [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

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