Hadley Freeman: My five minutes with Justin Timberlake

Hadley Freeman: The answer to what can you do in five minutes, if you're Justin, is you can make a journalist fall a little bit in love with you

Five minutes doesn't get you much these days. Your bus isn't likely to come in five minutes; you can barely make a pot of tea; you can't even listen to the album version of The Verve's Bitter Sweet Symphony.

I, however, was determined to plumb the depths of Justin Timberlake's soul in just 300 seconds.

Last week, the PR for Timberlake's fashion label, William Rast, asked if I would like to interview Justin before his show in New York. Pope, bears, etc. Date and venue were arranged.

Then the following email arrived: "Your interview time with JT will be from 5.05-5.10pm." At first, I assumed this was a typing error but no - I was to have five minutes with Justin because, his PR explained, "Justin has only one hour for the world." Still, I wasn't too disheartened: after all, Justin had only four minutes for Madonna in their duet, Four Minutes.

Intrigued by what one can find out about a person in five minutes, I turned up to the interview backstage at his show on Monday and was told that, actually, I'd have to share my five minutes with the reporter from USA Today. Apparently one hour wasn't quite enough for the world, after all. I could just spot the surprisingly tall Justin through the crowds of Access Hollywood and E! channel presenters surrounding him and, at last, USA Today and I were brought forward.

Who are your fashion icons, Justin? "Um, Dean Martin, Steve McQueen, Grace Jones." Was his love for Grace the inspiration behind his spoof of Beyoncé's Single Ladies video (on YouTube and highly recommended) in which he wears a leotard? "Nah, that was just something every man should do," he replied, tongue perhaps in cheek. How did he find doing speedy interviews? "It's not too bad. But most of the interviews I do are pretty lame," he replied, with surprising frankness. Well, at five minutes, what did he expect? "Nah, it's just that we live in a Big Brother age, you know? And everyone wants to know who you were with last night. It's like, none of your business!"

He then looked right in my eyes and (I swear I am not lying), put his hand on my arm. "But I'll talk to you all day as long as you ask good questions." Yet behind me, Access Hollywood were stamping their feet impatiently. Justin looked tired.

So the answer to what can you do in five minutes, if you're Justin, is you can make a journalist fall a little bit in love with you and, somewhat more unexpectedly, feel bad for you. Thank God we didn't have an hour.


Hadley Freeman

The GuardianTramp

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