Justin Timberlake, who’s been married to actor Jessica Biel since 2012, was filmed holding hands with one of his co-stars at a bar in New Orleans in November. Timberlake, who appears to be quite drunk in the video, rests his hand on actor Alisha Wright’s hip (skip ahead to 0:01 on The Sun), grazes her arm and holds her hand (0:29), and then appears to touch the chest of a different woman (0:45) who has come over to help him stand up and leave. Many outlets focused on the suggested infidelity of their interaction, downplaying the impropriety of a powerful man getting drunk and handsy around his younger female co-worker, but that cheating-adjacent narrative managed to stick. On Wednesday night, Timberlake apologized to Biel (but not Wright) in an Instagram post, blaming his “lapse in judgment” on drinking “way too much.”
“I apologize to my amazing wife and family for putting them through such an embarrassing situation,” Timberlake wrote. “I should have known better.”
He’s right. He should have known better—but not for the reason he and some news outlets seem to think. While The Sun and other publications framed the story around cheating, emphasizing the fact that JT’s married and how Wright “stroke[d] his knee during [their] boozy night out,” what happened is arguably better understood as a workplace issue, one that involves a powerful man getting drunk and physically inappropriate with a younger, less powerful female colleague.
We don’t know what kind of relationship the Timberbiels have together. Maybe they’re cool with each other flirting with or sleeping with whomever their partner wants. The problem isn’t that Timberlake is married; it’s that he got drunk and started pawing at his co-star, potentially forcing her to navigate a tricky situation she probably didn’t sign up for when she signed on for the film. Even if Timberlake weren’t in a committed relationship, he "should have known better" than to get drunk and handsy.
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