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Pop star does a Runner
Pop star does a Runner

Hollywood has famous couplings such as Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro while the music world had Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson. But now, apparently, add to that list: Justin Timberlake and Timbaland.

"Sometimes a producer and an artist get together and they make magic . . . as far as my own music career - you could liken my chemistry with Timbaland to Scorsese and De Niro," suggests Timberlake.

"I don't want to sound conceited but I do believe that every time we get together we make something that I've never quite heard."

His fans probably wouldn't disagree, enabling him to move more than 70 million albums over the course of his recording career which began almost 20 years earlier when he appeared in a TV talent show, Star Search, shortly thereafter joining The New Mickey Mouse Club and going on to become the youngest member of boy band 'N Sync.

As a solo artist, he had enormous success with his two studio albums Justified and FutureSex/ LoveSounds although in 2007, he took what would be a five-year hiatus from recording to focus on his fledgling film career.

If he expected to conquer the film world with the same ease he has his recording career, then he got off to a shaky start, his debut film Edison - which should have been a sure thing co-starring Kevin Spacey and Morgan Freeman - going straight to DVD. Following noteworthy performances in Alpha Dog and The Open Road, his career began to pick up steam after portraying Facebook president Sean Parker in The Social Network. Currently, he stars opposite Ben Affleck in online gambling thriller, Runner Runner, portraying a Princeton graduate student paying his tuition by online gambling.

While Runner Runner serves up an example of the pitfalls of trying to get rich quick, Timberlake, 32, wags a finger:

"The American dream used to be about being rich and famous, but now it's to become rich and famous - as quickly as possible," he says from the comfortable standpoint of having been rich and famous almost half his life.

"The more access we have to things, the faster we want them. Just touch a button and you can have almost anything shipped to you.

"Today, people don't want to own a Cadillac; they want to invent their own car. A generation of young people wants to start their own galaxy of entrepreneurial activities," says the singer- songwriter whose own galaxy of enterprises includes two restaurants, a brand of tequila, the William Rast clothing line, a financial stake in MySpace, and a golf course in his hometown of Millington, Tennessee. "People are constantly trying to reinvent the wheel, and things are moving at warp speed.

"Its cut-throat and less about integrity, pride or honour, or any moral values," says the man who famously exposed Janet Jackson's boob during the 2004 Superbowl half-time show, thereby entering the phrase "wardrobe malfunction" in the lexicon of pop culture.

Triumphantly returning to his music career earlier this year, his comeback album, The 20/20 Experience, is the best-selling title of 2013 so far. And he's poised to double down with the release of his second album, The 20/20 Experience - 2 of 2.

However, in what was meant to be his glorious VMA triumph last month, honoured with the Michael Jackson Vanguard Music Award, and hogging an entire 16 minutes of the televised awards show with a medley of his greatest hits - including a blink-and-you-miss-it 'N Sync reunion - his career high was unexpectedly hijacked by a twerking, foam-fingered Miley Cyrus.

If much outrage has been expressed about Cyrus in the days and weeks following her stupefying performance on August 25 at the MTV Video Music Awards, then Timberlake is diplomatic.

"I think she's really smart and I think she's really talented. I'm not saying I agree with the presentation.

"But I also feel like every 10 to 15 years, we pick somebody who this is what we're going to do with them: we're going to make them the model of who we want our daughter to be or not be," he says in what might be taken as a veiled reference to his famous first love and fellow Disney escapee, Britney Spears, who went off the rails in her own post-traumatic post- Justin years.

Timberlake's own transition from boy to man has been nothing but elegant.

Receiving an early schooling from ex-girlfriends Cameron Diaz, Jenna Dewan and Alyssa Milano, five years ago he would meet Jessica Biel, eventually making her his wife.

At Runner Runner's recent world premiere at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas the power couple strolled down the red carpet, wearing almost identical suit and white shirts. No ties.

The following day, Timberlake is still the epitome of style, dressed in a patterned shirt, jeans and pork-pie hat as he arrives for our interview in a small room at the back of the casino.

"I do think there was probably a cloud over a movie like The Social Network in a way that may have been a little unfair, but that's OK. I can respect that. I think the important thing for people to understand is that I'm not doing any of this in vain. I'm doing it because I take it seriously, and always have.

"But I do think you can pop on to the scene with a great performance in a movie, if you're an unheard of actor but after that, to have a career, it's a marathon." Making smart collaborations with the Black-Eyed Peas and Jay Z in his music career, he has worked hard at making equally savvy alliances in his film career.

"It's all about collaboration. So it's important to work with people that you have chemistry with. One person doesn't make a movie great but a bunch of people can make a movie s...."

An accomplished singer, dancer, actor, businessman, and a man of good taste, Timberlake admits to one personal failing.

"I'm a very impatient person and I've been trying to work on that my whole life. I don't wait very well."