Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake were seen painting on smiles as they watched the 2002 Super Bowl, just a few weeks before their bitter split.
In unseen snaps of the former couple revealed on Saturday, the singer, now 39, and Cry Me A River hitmaker, 40, headed out to Planet Hollywood NYC to watch Tom Brady’s first Super Bowl on February 3rd.
Posing for photos together, Justin was seen wrapping an arm around Britney’s shoulders as he wore a small smile, while Britney tried to look more cheerful during the event.
Outing: Britney Spears and ex Justin Timberlake painted on smiles at the 2002 Super Bowl in unseen snaps taken WEEKS before bitter split that were revealed on Saturday… after fans slammed the Cry Me A River singer over explosive documentary
But in a more candid moment, the former couple’s faces tell a different story as Britney wore a serious expression while Justin looked pensive as they prepared to take another photo while holding up special T-shirts.
While they were being interviewed at the event Britney could be seen by Justin’s side, smiling as they chatted with a reporter before they headed inside the venue to enjoy the match.
In the restaurant, Justin and Britney sat beside each other but they appeared to not speak to each other as they simply watched the game and chatted with other people at their table.
As they left the venue, the couple were seen holding hands and smiling together but it would only be a few weeks before they announced they had parted ways.
All for show? While they were being interviewed at the event Britney could be seen by Justin’s side, smiling as they chatted with a reporter before they headed inside the venue to enjoy the match
Former couple: Justin spoke at the event with Britney by his side, but before stepping out on stage they didn’t seem to be as enthusiastic as they stood side-by-side
Fans have demanded Timberlake apologise to the star for his handling of their breakup, in light of the documentary Framing Britney Spears.
The exposé explores the dark side of the Toxic hitmaker’s fame, from her rise as a childhood star to her 2007 breakdown and her father Jamie’s controversial 13-year conservatorship, which launched the #FreeBritney movement.
However, a large number of viewers have accused Justin of having a hand in tarnishing Britney’s image following their split in March 2002, while veteran journalist Diane Sawyer, 75, was branded a ‘sl**-shamer’ for her subsequent interview with the star.
Close: As they left the venue, the couple were seen holding hands and smiling together but it would only be a few weeks before they announced they had parted ways
Outraged: Fans have demanded Timberlake apologise to the star for his handling of their breakup, in light of the documentary Framing Britney Spears
During the teen years of Louisiana-raised Britney’s superstardom, she was heavily sexualized after publicly declaring that she was a virgin.
As she grew into adulthood she was needled in interviews about her breasts and questioned on whether she had remained a virgin as her romance with Timberlake from 1999 to 2002 saw her hailed as one half of a pop world power couple.
However, once the pair eventually split in 2002, Justin all but accused his ex of cheating on him when he released his hit track Cry Me A River, which included a video of a Britney lookalike reaping the consequences of infidelity.
And while Britney had continued to publicly maintain that she was still a virgin, Justin suggested otherwise in post breakup interviews.
Accusation: A large number of viewers have accused Justin of having a hand in tarnishing Britney’s image following their 2002 split (Pictured left in 2001 and right in 2002)
Points of view: Viewers piled in with their cutting points of view after the documentary aired in the US on Friday night
In a flash, Britney was widely seen as the one responsible for the split and even her interviewer Diane Sawyer took an accusatory tone, asking her: ‘What did you do?’
In 2003, Britney sat for an interview with Diane – who played a clip of Maryland’s First Lady Kendall Erlich saying figuratively that ‘if I had an opportunity to shoot Britney Spears I think I would’, a remark for which she later apologised.
Veteran journalist Diane appeared to gently justify the harsh and shocking statement – which was made in reaction to the star wearing ‘revealing’ clothes, which was cited as a bad influence on children – as she pressed Britney for a response.
When Britney got over her shock at the remark she managed to counter: ‘I’m not here to, you know, babysit her kids.’
MailOnline has contacted Justin and Diane’s representatives for comment.
Cutting: Viewers branded Diane Sawyer, 75, a ‘sl**-shamer’ for her interview with the star, in which she questioned her about the breakup and her ‘revealing’ clothes’. Pictured in 2019
Line of questioning: The viewers took umbrage to the veteran journalist’s line of questioning
After the airing of Framing Britney Spears, which aired in the US on Friday night, viewers took to Twitter in droves to strike out at Justin and Diane.
Wrote one: ‘Justin Timberlake laughed and got ‘revenge’ in cry me a river …Britney had to go on TV with Diane Sawyer and break down crying in an interview after they broke up…That s**t would NOT fly in today’s culture. #FreeBritney’
Tweeted another viewer: ‘Nasty a*s old people asking a teenage Britney all the time if she was a virgin. How big her boobs gotten. And Justin Timberlake publicly announcing that he took her V card!!! The s**t she went through.’
‘I think it’s time for @DianeSawyer to issue a public apology to Britney Spears,’ said a third. ‘She treated her disgustingly and never once said sorry. Speak up sis. You were VERY wrong for the way you interviewed her.’
Grilling: Following the 2002, split, Britney was widely portrayed as the villainess and even Diane Sawyer took an accusatory tone, asking her, ‘What did you do?’
Penned another fan of the star: ‘Diane Sawyer literally tried to defend a woman who said ‘If it wasn’t illegal to shoot Britney I would’ to Britney because Britney was wearing ‘revealing’ clothes and mothers are worried about their children because of it? LIKE WTF???’
However, some fans jumped to former NSYNC frontman Justin’s defence, explaining that he was also young at the time of his split from Britney.
Explaining their stance, one wrote: ‘All this Justin and Britney shit was way too much for two young ppl. They were way too young for ppl to have so much expectations and so much judgement. #FreeBritney (sic)’
‘Am I the only Britney fan who also loves Justin Timberlake?’ queried another. I get he should have apologized for things he said but sometimes if the two parties involved have no ill will, doesn’t mean we have to put ourselves between their issue. She has moved on.’
Iconic relationship: Britney found herself in crisis when Justin blamed her for the breakup in his single Cry Me A River
Defence: However, some fans jumped to former NSYNC frontman Justin’s defence, explaining that he was also young at the time of his split from Britney
Wrote a third: ‘I love @jtimberlake but in all honesty. He wouldn’t have had anything to write about for his 1st album if it wasn’t for the breakup with @britneyspears & @Pharrell giving him most of @michaeljackson demo songs. #JustSayThankYou’
The pair first denied they had broken up for weeks despite rumours suggesting they had, with Britney confirming she was single a few days after their latest denial.
At the time of Britney and Justin’s split, it was rumoured that she had cheated on the pop heartthrob with dancer Wade Robson, now 38.
However, it has also been claimed that Justin cheated on Britney multiple times in the year leading up to them calling time on their ill-fated romance.
In the years following the couple’s breakup, Britney would endure a very public unravelling, that culminated in her shaving off her hair in early 2007.
Shortly afterwards, she was placed under a conservatorship, handled by her father Jamie, which she remains under to this day – despite trying to fight it.
Shocking: Maryland’s First Lady Kendall Erlich said figuratively that ‘if I had an opportunity to shoot Britney Spears I think I would’ on account of her being a bad role model