Published January 13, 2015
Though Justin Timberlake says he no longer speaks to ex-girlfriend Britney Spears, he's still rooting for her.
"I wish her well, and I want to see her win," Timberlake tells GQ magazine in its August issue, on newsstands July 25.
"I don't think you can ever count somebody like her out," he says of Spears, who broke down in tears during a recent interview with NBC's Matt Lauer. "Because she may appear one way, but she's very clever."
Timberlake, 25, fell for Spears, now 24 and pregnant with her second child with husband Kevin Federline, when they were preteens in "The Mickey Mouse Club."
"I was in love with her from the start," he tells the magazine. "I was infatuated with her from the moment I saw her."
After a public romance, the couple broke up in 2002.
"When we initially parted ways I felt like she had a couple opportunities to just sort of stick up for me, and she didn't," Timberlake says. "Which is fine. But at that time, you know, I fought back."
Timberlake sang about their split in "Cry Me a River," from his top-selling 2002 solo debut, "Justified."
"I used my mind," he says. "I came up with a song."
Today, he remembers the Spears Years as "so high school," compared with his "adult" relationship with now-girlfriend Cameron Diaz, 33.
"For me, this time around, it's been important to stay, at least as much as I can, out of the limelight," he says. "And I think that's made it more enriching. I've received so much more from it by keeping it just between the two people it's supposed to be between."
Timberlake's second solo album, "FutureSex/LoveSounds," will be released Sept. 12. His first single from the CD, "SexyBack," began playing on U.S. radio outlets earlier this month.
"I didn't want to be that `guy from the boy band,"' says Timberlake, formerly of 'N Sync. "I didn't want to be that guy who was just, like, famous for being famous. I didn't want to be the guy who dates girls in the tabloids.
"That's why the (first) album was such a big deal for me. I had to fight harder for my respect, my credibility."