Why 'suffering' was the best thing for Justin Timberlake

Singer/actor Justin Timberlake. Photo / AFP
Singer/actor Justin Timberlake. Photo / AFP

Justin Timberlake says "suffering" after his split from Britney Spears inspired his songwriting.

The 35-year-old singer brought up his 2002 song Cry Me A River - inspired by his ex-girlfriend Britney - when he was asked "if there's any truth to the myth that in order to create, an artist must be depressed and a bit tormented".

Justin told Vanity Fair Italia: "It depends. In the past, suffering helped me write. Cry Me a River was written in a moment of pain, and the whole world knew."

The video for the song features Justin getting revenge on his ex, a Britney lookalike, as he films himself in her home with another woman.

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Francis Lawrence, who directed the video, previously said:

"[Justin and I] had a conversation on the phone and all he said was he wanted to have some dancing in it, but to do my thing. He told me what the song was about, but in a [general way] as well. He just said it was a kiss-off song and so I came up with this idea and he went for it."

Britney and Justin - who were co-stars on Disney's Mickey Mouse Club as children - started dating in 1999 and split up in 2002.

Justin has a son Silas, 16 months, with his wife Jessica Biel and recently said the tot inspired his latest single Can't Stop The Feeling, which he wrote for the upcoming Trolls film - in which he voices the character Branch.

He said: "I'd be leaving out the whole truth if I didn't say having him shaped what the song actually is. [Having a child] gives you a different insight. It's like The Matrix, man. You open a door and there's this whole other world on the other side of it. And you look back through the door at the other world and you're like, 'What was I doing there?' "

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