The BFFs talk about when and where they first met, their hilarious "Inception" mug prank, and the unexpectedly perfect quarantine message in JT's new "Don't Slack" video.
One of the most joyously unexpected side effects of this late-night shift to "at home" production is how the entire dynamic of conversations between guests and hosts has changed. Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake have always had a fun chemistry, but during his appearance on "The Tonight Show: At Home Edition" Tuesday, it felt like we were just listening on two friends chatting and having a good time.
There's an intimacy to these conversations that emphasizes the humanity of these stars more than any talk show appearance can. There's still that disconnect of the traditional talk show interview format which gets stripped away when it's two friends chatting on video the same way any of us would.
Even as Justin Timberlake was technically promoting his new movie and single from its soundtrack ("Trolls World Tour" and "Don't Slack," respectively), this was so much more just two friends reminiscing and enjoying chatting together.
Don't get us wrong, they still managed to find ways to be playful, as when they put together a brand-new and totally bizarre "Quarantine Remix" made up of sound bytes each of them made separately from their own homes mixed into something resembling a song.
It's totally in line with their past comedy/music collaborations and in a world where Cardi B's "Coronavirus" rant can actually get a remix that charts on Billboard, maybe this isn't as strange as it seems.
But the most enjoyable part of the whole show was this very casual conversation the two of them shared, taking a tour through their long friendship, all the way back to its nervous genesis at the 2002 MTV VMAs. It was there that Jimmy Fallon was seeking to launch his hosting career, while JT was looking to launch his solo career.
It was a risk for both of them, but Justin admits he may have made a mistake by debuting his solo career and new single on that stage. "In retrospect, maybe not the greatest decision," he said. "Maybe I should have put the song out first so people know what I was [singing] ... Everybody was watching, but they didn't know the song."
Of course, we would all come to know the song very well, as it would go on to reach number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and even get nominated for a Grammy. Obviously, Justin's career was just fine from that kickoff performance atop an enormous boombox.
As for Jimmy, he recalled pacing back and forth muttering about his nerves before he hit the stage. "I hope this hosting thing goes well because, you know, if I host this, it helps my career," he remembers saying. Justin's response? "Well this is my first solo thing ever, so I guess it's the same?"
And that was it, as apparently they were able to help one another with those nerves. Both would go on to kill the night and both are obviously doing just fine now. And apparently, their comedic instincts kicked in almost immediately. "We started doing bits back and forth and that's all we do now," Justin laughed.
The two clearly share a comedic sensibility, as evidenced when JT would guest on "SNL" while Jimmy was still there, and then all of his appearances on "Late Night" and "The Tonight Show" since. It's to the point the two have an instinctual rhythm that even they don't understand.
They even started doing it at Justin's wedding. "It was one of those things where we started riffing back and forth, I think that half the wedding party thought that we had planned it out," he said.
Jimmy recalled another wedding where the same thing happened. "We were rapping and improvising singing, everyone thought, oh did you work on that bit?" he recalled. "We don't really have a go-to bit."
Instead, they just go where their muses take them, like when Justin felt inspired at Jimmy's house one morning to take a picture of himself drinking from a mug with Jimmy's face plastered on it from Jimmy's back porch and send it to his best friend.
Well, it didn't take long for Jimmy to decide he needed to put that picture on a mug and then take a new picture of him standing in the same spot on his porch drinking from it. You can catch both mugs making featured appearances in the "Quarantine Remix" video above.
They dubbed the whole thing their "Inception" mug moment, and it's those kind of goofy off-the-cuff moments in their private lives which make them such an enjoyable pair together on stage. And that's the beauty of embracing creativity and all those goofy little thoughts that come into your mind. You never know when inspiration might spark joy.
It certainly happened in a most unexpected and surprising way with Justin's newest music video, from his "Trolls World Tour" movie. The song "Don't Slack, which is a collaboration with Anderson.Paak, inspired them to come up with a video that is wholly appropriate for the self-isolation era we're living in now ... and it happened totally by accident.
"We didn't plan it that way, obviously," Justin said. "We shot the video the beginning of February ... and we got Anna Kendrick. She was game to play this character; we were basically trying to cheer her up."
In the video, both Anderson and Justin bombard Anna throughout her house as she muddles around in her PJs seemingly in a bit of a funk. But they keep egging her on to be creative, feel loved and celebrate just being here.
"Remember 'Drop Dead Fred'?" Justin asked. "That was sort of the concept, that we were these imaginary friends that basically antagonize this character and at the end of the video, cheer her up."
He said he's already gotten texts from people stunned at how strong the video's message is as the nation continues to live under stay-at-home orders. "We didn't plan it that way, but yeah, I guess it's not the worst idea to just have a dance party at your house."
You can check out Anna Kendrick's dance party for one in the official "Don't Slack video below. "Trolls World Tour" comes out in theaters and digital video release on Friday, April 10.