Justin Timberlake fights the clock (& grim reaper) in ’In Time’
When Justin Timberlake first started acting, he faced the same scrutiny any musician getting in front of the camera does. There was skepticism and criticism at first, but now he’s a box office superstar and acclaimed for work in movies like "The Social Network" and "Alpha Dog," or comedies like "Bad Teacher" or "Friends with Benefits."
His latest movie may make Justin Timberlake a bona fide action hero. He’s the star of "In Time," a futuristic sci-fi thriller in which he’s on the run in an oppressive society. "It gives a different physicality to a performance," Timberlake said.
"I’m from Tennessee and it’s no secret, we like to shoot guns. That’s pretty cool. I was excited because I feel like this movie in particular I feel like is my type of action character to play because he is thoughtful and very intimate. While it is thrilling, I feel like this movie is very performance driven and an intimate experience as well. You always want to get under a character’s skin but it’s fun to drive cars really fast and shoot guns and not get arrested for it. So that was fun for me."
From writer/director Andrew Niccol ("The Truman Show," "Gattaca"), "In Time" posits that people can live forever and remain young. However, all these immortal young beauties are given a clock. They can buy and sell more time as they wish, but when time runs out, that’s it. Of course Timberlake’s character doesn’t accept these rules.
"Hearing [Niccol] talk about it when we first met and seeing the world that he had created, that’s what really inspired me to come onto the project," Timberlake said. "We talked about the idea that we’re all searching for the fountain of youth so to speak. What would happen if we through science could actually achieve looking young and living forever? What Andrew so brilliantly created with that was the juxtaposition of obviously the risk of overpopulation. For lack of a better term, the establishment dehumanizing us by regulating our lives and making time the currency, that when you turn 25, a year on your body clock starts. You’re made aware of how much time you live."
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Watch the trailer to "In Time":
In the world of "In Time," you can trade a few minutes for a cup of coffee, or if you’re really rich you can buy time from the poor. "I fell in love with the young man that he was, an ordinary person being put in extraordinary or fantastical situations. He wakes up every day, lives in a slum, is kind of an everyday man but poor. He’s got 23 hours on his body clock so only has a day to live. The hypothesis being how would you function, how would you live and those types of extenuating circumstances, to have to beg, steal, borrow, even kill maybe to stay alive. So that’s what attracted me."
Except for the eternal youth aspect, "In Time" really isn’t even science fiction. We see today how people trade on personal commodities. If there weren’t an action hero like Timberlake fighting for them, perhaps the people of "In Time’s" world would gather 99% of the world’s low time limit people and occupy their Wall Street, or the equivalent 1% of people buying more time.
"I think that Andrew has an uncanny sense and ability to use a medium like the films that he writes and directs to [comment on society] a little bit. He does them in such a smart way, that’s what I love about this film. Here is an anti-hero who in turn is forced to become a hero and we live through him in this world. The bigger part of the picture is that everything we describe, those are all the causes of how this movie gets started. The effect is that society has been split into two halves. There’s no middle class. I do think it is like you said in the Zeitgeist and say that’s not far off."
Those themes are inherent in Niccol’s script. Niccol also created an action film with plenty of trailer moments that’ll make viewers want to go on the whole ride. "I feel like we’re just describing him as a writer. The other thing that he does that is so amazing to me is that as a director, he has an ability to create a thrill ride and this movie’s really thrilling. It stays a few steps ahead of you the whole time and doesn’t give you a chance to catch your breath."
Even with chases and fights, "In Time" still makes Timberlake a lover. His leading lady is Amanda Seyfried, so Timberlake wasn’t going to play it platonically. "I have a clause in my contract that says if you put someone as beautiful as Amanda in a movie, I have to fall in love with her. It’s a thriller that happens to have a lot of different elements."
Timberlake grew up with action movies, and other "geeky" interests went hand in hand. Perhaps he can represent that childhood geek, all grown up and saving the world for the rest of us in movies.
"I’m into video games. My favorite comic books when I was a kid were Archie comics. I think that’s probably apparent in my mission to make you laugh. I grew up loving action films. When I was a kid, ’First Blood’ was one of my favorite films. That’s just a classic action movie. ’He drew first blood. Colonel, they drew first blood.’ My favorite was Richard Crenna’s line when he walks out of the tents, ’A good supply of body bags.’"
When he quoted Stallone’s line, Timberlake did a respectable Rambo voice too. Perhaps it is time for him to play the hero. Other "Social Network" costars are doing it.
"I love movies like this because I want to go to the theater and discover. I think that while what you’re presenting is an obstacle, it’s also at least we don’t have the pressure of existing comic books that tell us what we have to do. I would feel probably way more nervous about that. I have some friends who are about to do that, I just worked with recently, and I’m every excited for them but I know that they’re probably very nervous too. In a way, that’s exciting for us that we are coming in with original material. We do have something that is a little bit different so I’m excited about it."
"In Time" opens nationally on October 28, 2011.
Watch this interview with Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried from "In Time":