Thursday, June 20, 2024

Timberlake: “My Music Career Hangs Over Me Like a Cloud”


Exclusive: Joel and Ethan Coen’s “Inside Llewyn Davis” got a 10 minute standing ovation last night in its Cannes premiere, the kind of reception that is real Cannes, and not the tepid deal for “The Great Gatsby” last Wednesday. Carey Mulligan, who stars in both movies, told me later (and not to put down Gatsby): “It’s thrilling to be watching a movie and feel that everyone loves it.” Indeed, the black tie audience was gaga for “Llewyn.”

The cast was all there, even John Goodman, who sort of arrived and hen vanished again. He and Garrett Hedlund have a hilarious extended cameo that actually could be spun off into another movie. Folk singer Llewyn winds up driving to Chicago with them. Goodman is a mysterious sort of white blues man who talks a blue streak.

Hedlund is Johnny Five, his “valet” who speaks almost no words.You couldn’t hope to meet a nicer celebrity couple than Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel. They’re polite, well spoken, gracious and good looking. And smart. What else could you want?

They sort of stole the night in Cannes on Sunday at the premiere of the Coen brothers’ gem of a film, “Inside Llewyn Davis.” They’re also very well dressed: Justin in his tux, Jessica in an elegant Marchesa gown.

Justin plays Jim, a sort of clueless good guy folk singer who’s a pal of Llewyn (Oscar Isaac in his star making performance) and married to Jean (Carey Mulligan). It’s not the lead role but Justin is quite satisfied with his work and trajectory as an actor. He’s in his sweet-spot here, playing it light just the way he does in his guest appearances on “Saturday Night Live.” He actually has developed a devilish panache reminiscent of Bob Hope (also a devoted golfer).

“Llewyn Davis” is the first movie Timberlake has been in that’s featured him as a singer.

We talked about his career at the intimate gathering following the “Llewyn” black tie premiere. Timberlake is extremely thoughtful and very articulate on this subject. He said: “You know my music career hangsoer me like a cloud.” Interesting. Justin worries that he still isn’t taken seriously as an actor because of the music. He’s really devoted to the acting career. In fact, I’d say in a way that his whole “20/20 Experience” album and tour is an acting exercise. Justin is playing a part– of a Rat Pack like suave singer with a back up band. And that’s just fine since the album is a monster hit and the tour should be, too.

He told me of the whole “Suit and Tie” success: “It’s a tribute” to soulĀ  music of the 70s with a Memphis feel. And while he’s mastered the R&B falsetto, it’s nice to hear him sing straightforwardly in “Llewyn Davis.” He, Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver perform a hilarious but seriously meant novelty song called “Please Mr. Kennedy” in the movie that should become a cult classic.

Coming up next for Justin, a movie role that could really break through for him: the late record exec Neil Bogart, whose Casablanca Records produced Donna Summer and KISS. Bogart was a mastermind who lived large in the 70s. Timberlake told me they’re about to choose a director, and he’s doing his research. This will entail a meeting with Gene Simmons–which, I hope, someone will film. That’s a movie in itself.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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