Last week, the stars' representatives released a statement cementing the couple's split: "Addressing the media speculation regarding Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake's relationship, we are confirming that they mutually have decided to part ways. The two remain friends and continue to hold the highest level of love and respect for each other."
Timberlake, 30, and Biel, 29, began dating in 2007, when their careers were on par: He was soaking up the success of his "FutureSex/LoveSounds" album and tour. She was cementing her status as Hollywood's It Girl, co-starring in the box office hit "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry."
Then Timberlake invaded Hollywood and Biel picked up fewer parts. Last year, his star eclipsed hers: While he showed off his acting chops in "The Social Network" and flexed his comedic muscles on "Saturday Night Live," she spent time on commendable, if not as high-profile, charity projects.
"I hear it was Justin's decision," E! Online columnist Ted Casablanca said. "She's a beautiful girl. She has a talent. But Justin has many, many more talents. And things get hard when one person is rising and red hot and the other is sort of not even simmering, just kind of on the back burner, and the back burner is off."
According to Natalie Thomas, Us Weekly magazine's West Coast news editor, Timberlake had been thinking about breaking up with Biel for a while but postponed the split until after awards season, so as not to spoil the buzz around "The Social Network."
"There was talk of him being a contender for a Golden Globe or even an Oscar, so his team told him to push it back for that," Thomas said. "He didn't want that negative press around him."
Perhaps *NSYNC's erstwhile heartthrob wants a woman whose career rivals his (certainly, that's been his type in the past -- Timberlake dated Cameron Diaz from 2003 to 2007). Below, three potential partners for the man who brought sexy back:
Mila Kunis. As Timberlake did with "The Social Network," Kunis won a wealth of praise in 2010 with "Black Swan." Both are ramping up to be major Hollywood players -- she may join James Franco for Sam Rami's "Oz the Great and Powerful," and she and Timberlake are combining forces for "Friends With Benefits," in theaters in July.
She only has good things to say about him. After revealing in the February issue of Cosmopolitan that she relished kissing "Justin's upper lip," last week, Kunis gushed about her co-star to MTV.com, saying Timberlake is "anything and everything you would want him to be. He's just as lovely, just as professional, just as sweet and amazing, and there's nothing that he can't do."
Plus, he's been rumored to harbor more than friendly feelings for her. "They made 'Friends With Benefits' together and I think he saw something there that he didn't feel with Jessica," Casablanca said. "She can do drama, she can do comedy, she can do hot, sexy chick. That's a great range, and that's more akin to the range of his talents."
Scarlett Johansson. Timberlake and Johansson steamed up the small screen with his 2007 music video for "What Goes Around... Comes Around." While she's rumored to be cozying up to Sean Penn since her split from husband Ryan Reynolds, Timberlake seems like the type of young whippersnapper who could sweep in and steal her away. (Sure, Penn's got an Oscar, but Timberlake's got boy-band-certified moves.)
"There definitely was a lot of heat surrounding them when they filmed the video," Thomas mused, "and he has this track record with women he works with."
Britney Spears. Teeny boppers the world over wrung their hands after pop music's cutest couple split up in 2002. Time may be right for Timberlake and Spears to rekindle their three-year-long relationship: His movie career's on the up and up, she's poised to dominate the charts again with her upcoming album "Femme Fatale." True, Spears is dating her agent, Jason Trawick, but surely if she decided to date Timberlake to promote her latest project, Trawick wouldn't hold it against her.
Casablanca, though, can't see the cards falling Spears' way: "No way. He did that once, never again."