It wasn't Justin Timberlake's idea to have his suspense thriller, Runner Runner, come out a day before the release of his new album, The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2.
''But I'd be lying if I didn't say that was something I'd hoped for,'' acknowledges the 32-year-old Grammy-winning recording artist and actor of the serendipitous nod to his dual careers.
''It just makes things a little bit tricky to navigate the schedule, but doing the work at the end of the day is all that really matters and I've never been one to let a schedule get in the way of progress.''
Dressed casually in a checked shirt and jeans - his pompadour-esque hair sitting up in place - Timberlake is in Las Vegas to promote the film, in which he plays a student who believes he has been swindled by an online gambling site and travels to Costa Rica to confront the owner, played by Ben Affleck.
He has flown in from Brazil, where he was performing in concert, and confides with a grin, ''I didn't know where I was when I woke up this morning''.
Timberlake is funny, self-deprecating and surprisingly normal for a man who has reinvented himself more than once.
His 1993 starting point was joining The Mickey Mouse Club at the age of 12 and then the boy band phenomenon 'N Sync, before he struck out on his own with the multi-platinum albums Justified (2002) and Future Sex/Love Sounds (2006). After setting his sights on acting, Timberlake started out in indie features like Alpha Dog (2006) and Black Snake Moan (2006), before stepping up to voice roles in Shrek the Third (2007) and Shrek Forever After (2010) and finally being embraced by Hollywood in the 2010 Oscar-nominated film The Social Network.
His three follow-ups - the comedy Bad Teacher (with ex-girlfriend Cameron Diaz), the romantic comedy Friends with Benefits and the futuristic thriller In Time - suggest the hybrid talent is trying to cover all bases, but he insists there's no master plan.
''I think that in my career I like doing things that make me a little bit afraid,'' Timberlake says.
''When I was younger, I felt like I was backed into a corner. But then a lot of the things that I achieved were because people told me that I could not do them.''
''Act, sing, go solo, you name it.''
Busy promoting both Runner Runner and the upcoming Coen Brothers' film, Inside Llewyn Davis, in which he plays a 1960s-era folk singer, Timberlake surprised fans and pundits when he announced a fourth album would be released later this month. The first single, Take Back the Night, has had more than 2 million digital downloads in the US. It's six months since the debut of what was thought to be a stand-alone project, The 20/20 Experience, but he says the follow-up was always in the works.
''Much to my record label's chagrin, I wanted to put all this music out in a short period of time because all this music was written at the same time.
''For me, it was always a double album, but there were many different ways it could be released and what ended up being exciting to me was that you could have songs for the summer and songs for the winter,'' he says.
''When I looked at the actual time that these projects were going to be released, I was able to do a whole new sequence, first putting together the songs that make me feel like the sun is out and then, for the second half, the slightly darker songs that make me feel like the moon is out.''
On the movie poster for Runner Runner is the tagline: ''Play. Or Be Played.''
Has he ever been played?
''Sure I've been played, you know about Lou Pearlman, don't you?'' Timberlake responds with an almost casual reference to the boy-band mogul who was sent to jail for 25 years in 2008 for defrauding millions of dollars from acts including 'N Sync.
''We were cheated out of a large sum of money and I was 17 when that happened, so I learned a lot from that.
''I think any of us could be cheated at any moment, but I'm a pretty trusting person until you screw up once.''
His character Richie in Runner Runner is seduced by Affleck's character into chasing a new version of the American dream and this immediately appealed to the man who embodies that.
''I thought it was a really intelligent story and at the same time a lot of fun, like a homage to some of the thrillers that I loved watching when I was younger.''
Timberlake married actress Jessica Biel last October, and the notoriously private star isn't forthcoming when asked how the relationship works, with both of them often working apart, although she does jet in later that day to walk the red carpet of his Las Vegas premiere.
"Getting married means … you have to find that time … You have to go moment to moment to moment.''
1. Citizen Kane
"That movie blew my mind and I saw it at a pretty young age.''
2. Clockwork Orange and Dr. Strangelove
"It's a toss-up between them, so could they go in the same Kubrickian category?''
"It was the first time I watched a movie that made me believe in extraterrestrial life. Also, my father took me to see it at the drive-in when I was a kid so it's a memory I have in my mind.''
"This is one of my all-time favourites and especially my favourite Warren Beatty movie.''
5. Doctor Zhivago
"That movie was unbelievable and if you haven't seen it, you are really missing out on something unforgettable.''
Genre Suspense thriller
Buzz The hot cast and smart story should attract a big audience
Stars Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck, Gemma Arterton
Director Brad Furman
Release Now showing
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