Hey, cowboy! Memphis, Tenn., native Justin Timberlake – who turns 30 on Jan. 31 – is only 11 when he auditions for Star Search in 1992, performing Alan Jackson's "Love's Got a Hold On Me" under the name Justin Randall. Timberlake passes the audition, but loses the competition.
Timberlake is plucked from obscurity during a Nashville cattle call and lands a coveted spot on Disney's The New Mickey Mouse Club, a reimagining of the '50s hit. Timberlake joins budding all-stars Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling and future 'Nsync band mate JC Chasez on the show from 1993-1995, performing covers of current pop hits.
Timberlake signs with boy band wranglers Lou Pearlman and Johnny Wright, who helped launch Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block. Along with Chris Kirkpatrick, Lance Bass, JC Chasez and Joey Fatone, Timberlake becomes a part of 'Nsync, who burst onto the U.S. pop scene with the Top 20 hit "I Want You Back," not to mention some very tight shirts.
Before Sue Sylvester, Timberlake rocks the red track suit – onstage for 'Nsync's first-ever arena tour in 1999.
A decade before The Social Network, Timberlake makes his acting debut as a model with a heart of gold (and abs of steel) in Model Behavior, a 2000 Disney Channel movie about a supermodel and her regular girl look-alike. Timberlake also has his first onscreen kiss. "It's really deep. I'm a teen supermodel," he jokes to Access Hollywood about the role. "He kind of plays a teen role model, hunky kind of image, and I'm nothing like that."
The 2000 release of No Strings Attached proves that Timberlake and his 'Nsync mates flex some serious – and well-toned – musical muscle; the album breaks records, selling an unprecedented 2.4 million copies in its first week. The action-packed video goes on to be the longest-running clip on MTV's request show TRL.
After denying their romance to the press for years, pop's reigning prince and princess go public at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, when Timberlake and Britney Spears openly cuddle in their seats.
Timberlake and Spears are very together, sporting matching denim patchwork outfits (and accessories!) at the 2001 American Music Awards. The couple split a year later amid rumors that Spears cheated, but Timberlake remains mum. "I promised her I would not talk about why we broke up. I'm going to honor that, because I do still have so much love in my heart for her," he tells Teen People.
Nsync, Steven Tyler, Spears and Nelly score one of the most coveted gigs around – the halftime show at the 2002 Super Bowl. The motley crew perform a medley of tunes, including Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" and 'Nsync's own smash, "Bye, Bye, Bye."
After they performed their hit "Pop" at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards, 'Nsync are joined by Michael Jackson, who performs his signature moves while Timberlake beat-boxes along. "I will always cherish the moments I shared with him onstage," Timberlake says when Jackson dies in 2009.
Dancing in a fedora in front of a massive boom box, Timberlake makes his solo debut at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards, singing his first hit, "Like I Love You." His performance earns somewhat unfavorable comparisons to Michael Jackson, but Timberlake takes the criticism in stride. " I had a blast. But I knew I was going to be compared to Michael Jackson. That's a big hat and glove to fill," he tells Teen People. "To say that he doesn't inspire me would be like walking out onstage with a Band-Aid on my face and saying I wasn't trying to look like Nelly."
Timberlake may have said he wouldn't talk about Spears's alleged infidelity, but he promised nothing about hinting at it! In 2002's "Cry Me a River" video, Timberlake follows a Spears look-alike through her home, singing, "You don't have to say/What you did/I already know/ I found out from him." Timberlake eventually tells Rolling Stone, "I don't feel like I'm saying too much by saying she knows why this happened. Britney's a fire sign, a Sagittarius, they do things on a whim."
Timberlake takes home the award for Best Burp – and finds a new ladylove – at the 2003 Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards. The singer clicks with Cameron Diaz, and the two date for nearly four years.
On an incredibly harsh 2003 episode of Punk'd, Ashton Kutcher makes Timberlake believe that he owes nearly a million in back taxes, pretending to seize his home, his possessions, and even his dogs. Timberlake gets the last laugh, though, spoofing Kutcher with a pitch-perfect impression on Saturday Night Live.
Timberlake takes the Super Bowl stage again in 2004, joining Janet Jackson to perform his hit "Rock Your Body." Instead, they rock America – and the FCC – when Timberlake tears off a piece of Jackson's top, exposing Jackson's pierced right breast before an estimated 143 million television viewers. Later, Timberlake calls the highly-criticized incident a "wardrobe malfunction" – one that costs CBS half a million dollars in fines.
Timberlake is banned from attending the 2004 Grammy Awards – unless he apologizes, during the show, for Nipplegate. Timberlake attends the ceremony, and during his acceptance speech for "Cry Me a River" he remorsefully apologizes, saying, "I know it's been a rough week on everybody. What occurred was unintentional, completely regrettable, and I apologize if you guys were offended." Timberlake's 2003 tour mate, Christina Aguilera, sticks up for him: "People are bored ... to be still talking about a boob."
Although Timberlake's first foray into feature films, 2004's Edison, went straight-to-DVD, he earns critical acclaim for 2006's Alpha Dog, in which he plays a conflicted kidnapper. "I do find that people are surprised [that I can act]," he says. Timberlake later lands roles in Black Snake Moan and Southland Tales.
The man who made wearing sneakers with a suit acceptable takes his fashion style to the masses in 2005, launching the clothing line William Rast with his best friend Trace Ayala. "I wanted to have a basic collection that we could always fall back on," Timberlake says.
n 2006, Timberlake releases his second solo disc, the chart-topping FutureSex/LoveSounds. The lead-off single, "SexyBack," gives Timberlake his first-ever solo No. 1 song, and the singer embarks on the "FutureSex/LoveShow," his first solo world tour. It sells out.
In spite of ending their romance earlier that year, Timberlake and Diaz stay friendly, reuniting to promote Shrek the Third in 2006. "He's been great and we've been working so hard together to promote this film," Diaz tells PEOPLE, about her ex, who moves on to date Jessica Biel
He's bringing gravy back! In 2007, Timberlake and pals open the N.Y. restaurant Southern Hospitality, a down-home BBQ joint with recipes he coaxes out of his grandmother Sadie Bomer. "I kept saying if it's not [Granny's] recipe, I don't want it," he told PEOPLE. The price of getting her beloved recipes? "I gotta mow the lawn for like eight years."
What's that saying about good things coming in small packages? While hosting Saturday Night Live's 2007 Christmas episode, Timberlake teams up with Andy Samberg for the now-infamous digital short "D– in a Box." The raunchy skit – which winks at '80s boy band Color Me Badd – wins a Creative Arts Emmy. "It's different for him, he gets nominated for something every half hour," Samberg tells PEOPLE of the accolade.
Timberlake's comedy chops earn him a spot hosting the 2008 ESPY Awards. He gets his head in the game – literally –, poking fun at Jessica Simpson (who then was dating Dallas Cowboy Tony Romo), David Beckham, Terrell Owens and even himself, taking aim at Nipplegate. "I wanted to be the only guy at a football game to get to second base," joked the singer, who earns rave reviews for his hosting gig.
Flaunting a different kind of comedy chop, Timberlake strips down in nothing but a Members Only jacket, a Speedo and a 'stache for Mike Myers's 2008 comedy The Love Guru as a wife-stealing hockey player with, as Timberlake puts it, "a large personality."
At 2008's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Timberlake reveals that honoree Madonna ordered him to drop trou for a vitamin B-12 shot while collaborating on the song "4 Minutes." "I don't know what you say to that, so I immediately dropped my pants," he says. "She gave me a shot in my a– and looks at me and says, 'Nice top shelf.' That was one of the greatest days of my life."
Timberlake and Biel put breakup rumors to rest at an NBA playoff game in April 2009, when the couple is caught on the "Kiss Cam" at the Staples Center. After a few timid smooches, Timberlake climbs on top of Biel – much to the delight of the crowd.
Adding his own one-liners, Timberlake delivers the list of Golden Globe nominees in December 2009. "Paul McCartney – you may have heard of him," and "Bono – You may have heard of him, as well," quips Timberlake. Earlier that year his comedy skills earned him another stint on SNL, where he and Samberg created yet another viral hit, "Motherlover."
No, he's not reviving his 'Nsync curls! In early 2010, Timberlake wigs out – and puts a little spring into his step – when he accepts Harvard's Hasty Pudding Man of the Year award.
Another day, another viral hit for Timberlake. This time, in late 2010, the actor joins Jimmy Fallon for The History of Rap, a live performance of iconic rap songs from the Sugarhill Gang, Beastie Boys, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kanye West, Jay-Z and more.
Stepping into the slick, scheming shoes of Napster co-founder Sean Parker, Timberlake lends a supporting role to Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield in the Oscar-nominated The Social Network in late 2010. Variety praises his performance: "Timberlake makes Sean every inch the brazen opportunist, but his ne'er-do-well grin is positively infectious." Grammy winner, actor, designer, restaurateur, bringer-back-of-the-sexy – all before age 30. Hmm, JT, what's next?
Favorite Justin moments?