Joey Fatone was taken by surprise when his *NSYNC bandmate Justin Timberlake began his solo career.
“I was not blindsided by [*NSYNC’s breakup]; I was more blindsided as far as him coming out with music and not knowing that he was going to go and do an actual album/tour thing,” Fatone told Yahoo Entertainment in an interview published Tuesday.
Fatone explained that he and the rest of the group members were under the impression that Timberlake — who left *NSYNC in April 2002 — had plans to return.
“It was more of, ‘Hey, I’m going to do some music, and then we’ll get back together.’ That’s what that was,” he recalled.
“I was like, OK. But then when he went on tour and then things started going, I was like, ‘All right, I’ll go do Broadway.’”
*NSYNC went on a decade-long hiatus following Timberlake’s exit in 2002, which coincided with the release of his debut solo album, “Justified.”
Fatone, 46, explained that he didn’t blame his bandmate for the departure, adding that he understood the decisions were coming more from “the record company” than Timberlake, 42, himself.
“When you’re younger, you think it’s that person. But then you look at the whole bigger scheme of things. … That’s the business.”
Speaking to The New York Post in 2002, Timberlake said that going solo was just a “break” and not a “breakup” from the group.
For more Page Six you love …
“There’s no reason my solo career and *NSYNC can’t co-exist in the same universe. *NSYNC is in no danger,” he shared at the time.
The band didn’t grace the stage together again until the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. They most recently reunited again at the awards show in September.
Shortly after the appearance, *NSYNC announced their first song together in two decades.
The group’s latest single, “Better Place,” dropped on Sept. 29 for the animated film “Trolls Band Together.”
Despite making new music and public appearances, the boy band currently has no plans for a reunion tour — though the “Cry Me a River” singer does.
“Justin is coming out with a new album, so he’s planning a big US tour for 2024,” a source exclusively told Page Six last month.
As for Fatone, he’s happy with how everything unfolded after Timberlake left *NSYNC.
“That’s the beautiful part about it: My career and my life led me somewhere else, and I’m good and I’m happy with it,” he told Yahoo Entertainment.
“I’m always in a better place. I don’t know about [my bandmates]; I can’t speak for them. … But I’m always looking at the positive side of things.”