Justin Timberlake is, without question, one of the most talented people on the planet. He can sing like an angel, dance like his middle name is Thriller, is rivaled only by Alec Baldwin as the best “SNL” host in recent memory and an Oscar nod for his turn in The Social Network is almost a foregone conclusion.

His new film, Yogi Bear, a 3-D film adaptation of the beloved Hanna-Barbera cartoon that mixes animation and live action, is – shall we say – an unexpected choice, especially on the heels of a role that’s earning him serious critical acclaim, but Timberlake says he’s been a huge fan of the pic-a-nic snatching bear and his bow-tied sidekick for decades.

“I grew up with Hanna-Barbera cartoons and laughed with them as a kid,” he explains. “Nostalgia is probably the reason I did [the film].”

At the press day for Yogi Bear, which Timberlake attended on crutches after injuring himself on the set of his current project, Now (He jokes it was sustained by “kickin’ ass.”), the former teen idol explained his process to nail the voice of Boo Boo.

“I had someone on hand with the old ’60s and ’70s cartoons, and I would sit there and listen to it in between takes and before we would start our sessions,” Timberlake begins. “It would take me 15 to 20 minutes to really get – this is all really boring, geeky vocal stuff – but to get your palate to the right level of the character. So after the first 20 minutes, I would go back and re-record everything we’d done in the first half hour because you just get in the pocket of the tone and inflection. Wow, I’m really killing any sort of coolness I had before I got here,” he laughs. “At the risk of ruining my social life, funny enough, I kind of learned how to sing when I was a kid imitating singers on the radio; Al Green and Michael Jackson and Don Henley, but also I was an only child and obviously really bored. I would entertain my parents by imitating Scooby-Doo and Boo Boo, all the cartoon voices.”,br> Having grown up watching the cartoons, we asked Timberlake what touchstones he wanted to make sure he brought to his performance.

“I wanted to sort of Buster Keaton, if I may, to offset the bigness and brashness and almost absurdity of Yogi that [Dan Aykroyd] was able to find and so hilariously portray. It was sort of a Laurel and Hardy type of thing.”

Unlike most animated films, where the vocal tracks are recorded without any of the actors ever seeing each other, Yogi Bear director Eric Brevig brought Aykroyd and Timberlake together for their recording sessions.

“It really made a difference with the rhythm of the banter between Yogi and Boo Boo,” the actor-singer insists. “We really did see this as a Batman and Robin sort of duo.”

Timberlake explained that after the live-action portions of the film, which also stars Anna Faris, T.J. Miller and Tom Cavanagh, were shot in New Zealand, they were shown footage with “these weird stencil drawings [of Yogi and Boo Boo] running through, and it was our job to find what we thought was funny. Anna and Tom had way harder jobs than we did. To have to remember 8,000 things while not forgetting to act is a feat. I’ve never worked in that way where you’re looking at tennis balls or leaves as reference points. To get to work with Dan and feel like we were modernizing the characters and building on the relationship really makes a difference. We found so many things we thought were funny. It was a very cool collaboration.”

When asked what intrigued him most about re-voicing such iconic characters and tackling the role of Yogi’s sidekick, Timberlake says he was “honored to pay tribute to multigenerational characters” and was thrilled to know he would be introducing young minds to Yogi Bear for the first time, “so we were encouraged to put a new spin on them.”

But, most of all, he says, “I was just excited to wear a bow tie.”