As far as baby announcements go, it doesn’t get much cuter than a snow-filled picture of an elated Justin Timberlake kissing his wife Jessica’s bare baby bump. The couple are clearly ecstatic about the imminent arrival – which they finally announced via the picture on Justin’s Instagram account on his 34th birthday in January this year – and fitness enthusiast Jessica is glowing with health and happiness. Although her musician husband might be used to grabbing the bigger headlines, becoming a mum has been a chance for Jessica to give herself top billing for a change, and to get back to her own childhood roots. Not only has she been eating well throughout her pregnancy, ordering fresh, organic produce from local farms, but she’s been staying fit with hikes in the foothills above Los Angeles, with Justin and their beloved dogs.
In fact, having grown up in mountainous Colorado, it’s in the great outdoors that Jessica is most in her element. Despite now being a full-time LA resident, deep down, the 33-year-old is still an outdoorsy Colorado girl at heart.
“My father would always say, ‘Go out and don’t come back until you have something to show me’. Which meant he wanted me to come back with a scraped knee or an injury. When I went out to play, I felt like I’d better get hurt,” she says.
As she winds up her third trimester, the former tomboy shows no signs of taming her adventurous side, either. She’s recently announced plans to open an organic child-friendly restaurant in Santa Monica, California, called Au Fudge, which will offer a menu of healthy treats and boast a children’s activity centre complete with a tree house (a nod to that knee-scraping Colorado girl, perhaps?). The project is a joint collaboration between Jess and her friends and business partners, Estee Stanley and Kimberly Muller. The all-female venture typifies Jess’s respect and easy camaraderie with other strong, independent women. A true girl’s girl, Jess is a welcome antidote to the tabloid-hyped ‘girl-wars’ that supposedly permeate Hollywood.
She counts her former Valentine’s Day co-star Jennifer Garner among her best friends, (“[She’s] always the Shirley to my Laverne” – a reference to the 1970s sitcom about two best friends and flatmates). While Jennifer says of Jess, “She’s incredibly girly and warm and open – all of the things she seems to buck against when she’s looking at roles. She’s not just beautiful, she’s kind of on another level, but there’s an earthiness and a strength to it.”
Make no mistake, Jess is no stereotypical Hollywood diva – and she’s certainly not afraid of putting in some hard graft. Despite her advanced pregnancy, Jess has been hands on in planning the design and concept of her 120-seat restaurant, which is located in affluent West Hollywood to attract Hollywood’s elite.
“It will be a place where A-listers feel comfortable bringing their kids to dine and take part in cooking activities,” she said last year. The project has been dubbed her ‘second baby’ and is due to open in the spring – just after her actual baby arrives. But don’t expect her to take her foot off the gas anytime soon. With five movie projects already in production, she’s set to be busier than ever as she enters motherhood.
As well as the upcoming David O’Russell ensemble comedy Accidental Love (also starring Jake Gyllenhaal and James Marsden), she is set to star in the hotly anticipated film The Blunderer, alongside Patrick Wilson. The psychological thriller is based on the 1954 book of the same name and follows a young successful man’s life as it unravels when his wife is found dead at the bottom of a cliff.
During filming last November, Jessica was able to conceal her growing bump with the 1960s-style period bouffant dresses on set. Luckily, no such costume illusion was needed for the role she’s currently filming: voicing the 3-D animated pic Spark, alongside Hilary Swank and Susan Sarandon.
Such diverse movie fodder is a far cry from her beginnings on the wholesome family drama 7th Heaven (a role she landed aged 14 after being spotted at a modelling contest). “For a very long time, I wasn’t thought of as anyone with any credibility in the film world,” she admits. “Everybody is tramping through the swamp every day in this business. ‘I’m worth it, I’m credible – believe me, give me a shot!’ That’s the way I feel on a consistent basis.”
Child-star success story
As a former child star, she has empathy with young starlets who have to grow up in front of an audience. “I have this overwhelmingly motherly feeling toward them. Just do what you gotta do, girls! Hold it together! I wish everyone would leave them alone.”
When she left 7th Heaven after four seasons, movies quickly followed with roles in Elizabethtown and The Illusionist. “I was so thrilled to get that part,” she says of the latter. “It was such a joy for me – oh, it was great.” Next up, we’ll see her in indie thriller Shiva and May, alongside Girls star Zosia Mamet. She’s also been announced to star in The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, about a grieving widower (Jason Sudeikis) who finds refuge by helping a wisecracking young girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) fulfil her dream of building a raft and sailing across the Atlantic Ocean. The project has become something of a family affair with Justin Timberlake composing the soundtrack, and it marks a move towards more serious subject matter for Jess, who is best known in recent years for her roles in romcom New Year’s Eve, and action-comedy The A-Team.
She’s clearly excited to spread her acting wings beyond the horror movies, big romantic comedies, and action movies that made her famous. “Those can be great, but you don’t want to do only those kinds of films. You can’t live on eclairs alone. You have to have a spinach salad every now and again,” she says.
And with The Blunderer and The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea she’s relishing the opportunity to tackle more challenging fare. “I’m having some of the opportunities that I’ve been craving, so now I’m just craving more. I definitely don’t feel I’m sitting back going, ‘Yeah! I made it,’” she says. “Every day, I think, ‘What else can I read, what’s this person doing, what’s that girl doing, and why didn’t I read that?’”
Despite her busy career, Jess is determined to follow in her parents’ footsteps and give her child a loving, stable home environment. “The best thing I learned from them is that you have to put your relationship first,” she says. “You need to make time for your partner. It is really easy to let that go by the wayside. It’s easy to say, ‘Hey, I’ll see you later. I love you.’ And you can’t do that. Justin and I have a rule that we don’t let a certain amount of time go by without seeing each other, but it doesn’t always work. Sometimes you are both working and it just happens. But from here on out, I want to participate in making smart choices for the relationship.”
Style and substance
With her sculpted cheekbones, toned physique and daring style, Jessica’s become a staple on the best-dressed lists due to her fashion-forward dress sense. Experimental, but always chic, Jess is the darling of design houses from Chanel to Prada and Valentino – and is a front row regular at Fashion Week. “Jessica is a great chameleon,” says Giambattista Valli, who designed her wedding dress. “She can do the Venice-Beach surfer look one minute and divine diva the next.”
However, her casual pregnancy style (think cosy knits and skinny jeans) is a much more accurate reflection of the real Jess, she admits. “When I see myself in pictures with make-up on, even to this day, I think it looks weird. My eyes get squintier and smaller. On the red carpet, I’m playing a character. As soon as I get off that thing I think, ‘Oof, wipe that gloss off’. I’m wiping and wiping and pulling my hair out and trying to change my outfit. I’m immediately trying to get comfortable. It’s really a part I play.”
Beauty-wise, the former Revlon ambassador prefers to keep it simple: mascara, blotting papers and peach lipgloss are her must-haves. But she does admit to worrying about ageing, saying, “I’m definitely fearful in a very vain manner about my body ageing. I think it’s freaky weird to look at a picture of your grandmother when she was a young woman and look at her now.” But she insists, she’d never go the plastic surgery route. “I am really afraid of blades on my face,” she says. “That freaks me out beyond belief. I would way rather have wrinkles than have some slice-up going on.”
Admittedly, she works hard to look good, staying away from her favourite starchy carbs like bread, pasta and pizza as much as possible. “It’s so hard for months on end to maintain a strict diet and exercise programme,” she says. Adding, “For me, getting enough sleep, drinking lots of water, having a healthy diet, and staying away from alcohol are musts. It’s so boring, I know, but doing those things really helps,” she says. Well, whatever your secret is, Jess, it certainly seems to be working for you!
Daring, but chic, Jess’s eye for style makes her a red-carpet darling. From top to bottom She sparkled in an embellished Chanel couture gown at the 2014 Oscars; wowed in a red Versace dress with cascading hemline at the 2009 Met Ball; and shone white in Giambattista Valli at the Total Recall premiere in 2012.
Jessica’s film work has progressed from frothy blockbusters to grittier dramas, action and indie films such as Hitchcock, Total Recall and The Truth About Emanuel.
Having both had high-profile relationships with other celebs in the past, Justin and Jess have now settled down together after an on-off romance, with them finally tying the knot in 2012.
Jess was coy about her growing baby bump, keeping it covered and not officially announcing it until January this year, when she was well into her third trimester.
At the Valentine’s Day premiere with her best friend and co-star, Jennifer Garner.
Jessica says she learnt from her parents to always put her relationship first.