Justin Timberlake Alludes To Britney Spears’ Memoir Before Performing “Cry Me a River”

“No disrespect,” Timberlake said, before singing: “But aren’t we all just entertainers?”

Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake at the "Crossroads" premiere.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

He doesn’t have to say what he did… she already knows. 

During a performance at the opening of the Fountainbleau Hotel in Las Vegas Nevada on Wednesday, Dec. 13, Justin Timberlake seemed to allude to Britney Spears’ scathing memoir, The Woman in Me: Spears, Britney ,before performing “Cry Me a River.” 

As the music for the now-controversial song started, Timberlake told the crowd: “No disrespect.” He then started singing the line: “But aren’t all just entertainers?” 

Subtle, Justin. 

Timberlake, 42, has been scrutinized in the past for how he treated Spears, 42, following their public breakup in 2002 after three years of dating. 

But the scrutiny has intensified after the release of Spears’ highly-anticipated memoir, in which she dished on her relationship with Timberlake, their breakup and how she was treated as a result of both his comments and his song “Cry Me a River.”

Justin Timberlake performs onstage during the Fontainebleau Las Vegas Star-Studded Grand Opening Celebration on December 13, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Fans (and the press) speculated that Spears cheated on Timberlake—a rumor Timberlake seemed all-too-happy to lean into. Shortly after the breakup, Timberlake released his second solo single, “Cry Me a River”—a song about a breakup following an infidelity, featuring lyrics like “you don’t have to say, what you did, I already know.” 

To add fuel to the conjecture fire, Timberlake purposefully cast a Spears lookalike to play his cheating girlfriend in the music video. Classy.

In her memoir, Spears opened up about the shame she endured as a result of the rumors Timberlake perpetuated with his, shall we say, musical choices. 

“In the news media, I was described as a harlot who’d broken the heart of America’s golden boy,” she wrote. “The truth: I was comatose in Louisiana, and he was happy running around Hollywood.” 

Spears went on to write that on Timberlake’s “explosive album and in all the press that surrounded it,” her ex “neglected to mention that several times he cheated on me?” 

“There’s always more leeway in Hollywood for men than for women,” she added. “And I see how men are encouraged to talk trash about women in order to become famous and powerful. But I was shattered.”

Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Following their split and in addition to the release of “Cry Me a River,” Timberlake repeatedly made crude and disrespectful comments about his sex life with Spears, as BuzzFeed reports, and in the following years made public, not-so-thinly veiled jabs at Spear’s mental health.

In her memoir, Spears alleges that it was actually Timberlake who was unfaithful—multiple times over—and revealed that she had a secret abortion prior to Timberlake breaking up with her via text message. She described the decision to terminate her pregnancy as “one of the most agonizing things” she had ever done, adding that Timberlake was playing guitar while she was “crying and sobbing” on the bathroom floor after she had her abortion. 

Timberlake has yet to sufficiently comment on Spears’ memoir or her allegations, and has since turned off public comments on his Instagram following growing calls for him to publicly apologize to Spears. 

In October, a source close to Timberlake told ET that in recent years Timberlake “has tried to be supportive of Britney from a distance,” adding that he “still has respect for her.”

In her memoir, Spears says that she doesn’t think “Justin realized the power he had in shaming me.” 

“I don’t think he understands to this day,” she wrote.

Danielle Campoamor
Weekend Editor

Danielle Campoamor is Marie Claire's weekend editor covering all things news, celebrity, politics, culture, live events, and more. In addition, she is an award-winning freelance writer and former NBC journalist with over a decade of digital media experience covering mental health, reproductive justice, abortion access, maternal mortality, gun violence, climate change, politics, celebrity news, culture, online trends, wellness, gender-based violence and other feminist issues. You can find her work in The New York Times, Washington Post, TIME, New York Magazine, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, TODAY, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, InStyle, Playboy, Teen Vogue, Glamour, The Daily Beast, Mother Jones, Prism, Newsweek, Slate, HuffPost and more. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and their two feral sons. When she is not writing, editing or doom scrolling she enjoys reading, cooking, debating current events and politics, traveling to Seattle to see her dear friends and losing Pokémon battles against her ruthless offspring. You can find her on X, Instagram, Threads, Facebook and all the places.