“Cry Me a River,” Justified’s second single, a track that was largely believed to be an autobiographical take on their breakup, would likely have overshadowed its predecessor, “Like I Love You,” with its lyrics alone: ​​”You don’t have to say what you knew / I already knew, I found out from him. “But when the video with the 18-year-old blonde model actress was released Lauren Hastings, a Spears lookalike to a newsboy hat, well, it seemed terribly deliberate. Suddenly Timberlake had a runaway hit and Spears had something to explain.

Timberlake had tried hard to let her know that he looked like him, but it was still hard to process. When she saw the video on vacation, “I was kind of denied, like I had gone through this whole denial period or whatever,” she told Sawyer. “I don’t want to judge him or anything, because that’s how he had to deal with what happened. And that’s fine.”

Even so, she continued, “I know when I was in a relationship and something happened, I just couldn’t really go there.” Sure, her single “Everytime,” where she sang, “My weakness made you hurt / And I’m sorry for that song,” seemed to be Timberlake. But when she stammered to Sawyer, “I’ll just let the song speak for itself.”