"Listen, I'm not cool," the singer, dancer and actor says in the "Men of The Year" issue of GQ. "Being cool is about keeping your blood pressure steady. So no. Don't be cool. Be passionate. Be dedicated. Be tenacious. Be uncompromising. Be pissed. Be happy. Be sad."
Timberlake, 32, goes on to explain that not being "cool," often means doing the opposite of what's expected of him, like playing a high-stakes gambler in Runner Runner alongside Ben Affleck or appearing in sketches on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon every night for Timberweek.
"I've made a career out of doing things that I should not be doing. I wasn't cool about it," he says. "Because being cool would have meant I passed up on those opportunities. If you do that, it's because you're afraid. And what are you afraid of? You know?"
The triple-threat also feels that he can't be characterized by a specific album, sketch, or film in his career.
"I don't see myself as someone who's ever going to be defined by one moment," he says. "It's on to the next."
And what's next for Timberlake is his 20/20 Experience solo tour, which he kicked off Nov. 6, and a film by the Coen brothers, Inside Llewyn Davis, out in theaters Dec. 6.
Sebastian Kim / GQ, Richard Burbridge / GQ