Justin Timberlake: Pop icon finds his groove

Comedy Impact Report 2011: Bigscreen Bigshots

The pop icon-turned-actor, hot off an acclaimed turn in “The Social Network,” put the intensity on hold this past year, instead pulling out all the charm stops for the summer releases “Bad Teacher” and “Friends With Benefits,” plus a voice-only role as Boo-Boo in 2010’s “Yogi Bear.” Showing a natural gift for comedy underpinned by a musician’s understanding of rhythm and timing, Timberlake helped propel all three pics into sizeable worldwide hits: $216 million for “Bad Teacher,” $202 million for “Yogi Bear” and $150 million for “Friends With Benefits.”

Unafraid to play against type and image (the nerdy teacher in “Bad Teacher”), Timberlake is committed to his new craft, as evidenced by his hands-on approach to “Friends With Benefits.” “The script was originally PG-13,” he says of the R-rated movie. “But working with Mila (Kunis) and (director) Will Gluck, it became something different. We all workshopped it — which is unheard of — and they also gave us a lot of leeway to make it our own. So a lot of the humor is us. When we first met, we found out we share the same sick sense of humor.”