Everyone has his own version of the truth.
Ask Lance Bass, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone or Chris Kirkpatrick why Justin Timberlake left 'N Sync at the height of the boy band's success and you're likely to get different answers. Timberlake's truth is revealed in The Hollywood Reporter's Feb. 17 issue. "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," the "Can't Stop the Feeling!" singer remembers. "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," he explains. "I felt like I had other music I wanted to make and that I needed to follow my heart."
In addition to becoming a solo artist, Timberlake found success in Hollywood with Alpha Dog, The Social Network, Friends With Benefits, Runner Runner and other films. But he doesn't prefer one form of expression to the other. "I want to do both things. I really do idolize the golden era of Hollywood, when actors were required to sing and move. But I'm just following my gut in the decisions that I make about what I'm going to do next. I'm mostly just glad this is all working out because I really can't do anything else," Timberlake confesses. "I'm not gifted at anything else."
At the moment, Timberlake is unsure whether he wants to focus on acting or music. "Going on tour is a circus. You set up the tents, you play the show, you tear the tents down and go on to the next place. It's like Groundhog Day," he says. "After the 125th show, you feel debilitated."
Even so, Timberlake is excited about his new music. "It sounds more like where I've come from than any other music I've ever made," he tells The Hollywood Reporter. "It's Memphis. It's Southern American music. I want to make it sound modern—at least that's the idea right now."
The most important thing to consider, though, is how his career will affect his family.
"Everything feels divisive to me right now," he says. "Everything."
Finding work-life balance after becoming a first-time father in the spring of 2014 was tricky. "At first, it broke me down," he says. "Those first eight months felt like those old [Ed Sullivan] shows where people are balancing spinning plates on poles—except if you drop one, they die."
What if Timberlake's son wants to get into show business one day?
"If he wanted it bad enough, I suppose I could teach him a lot about what not to do," the actor-singer (who's married to Jessica Biel) tells the magazine. "You go through your life with your own traumas, big and small, and think, 'It's not that bad. I have a lot to be thankful for. My parents did the best they could.' But then you have a child of your own, and suddenly it opens all the floodgates, and you're like, 'No, no, no! That childhood trauma really did f--k me up!'"