At the turn of the millennium, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake's teen romance entranced tabloid culture like little else.
Timberlake, the pin-up boy-band member, and Spears, the pop-star phenomenon, were a match made in publicity heaven and, eventually, personal hell.
Nearly two decades on from the demise of their romance, the exes' love affair is back under the spotlight after the release of a new documentary, The New York Times Presents Framing Britney Spears.
The documentary, which is not yet available in Australia, has delved deep into the life and career of Spears and offered a fresh lens for examining how the singer was treated by not just the media, but also her close circle.
Watch the trailer for 'The New York Times Presents Framing Britney Spears' here. Post continues below.
In light of the documentary, fans of the #FreeBritney movement are demanding several high-profile people apologise for the role they played in the treatment of Spears.
And on Saturday, one of them did.
Spears' ex-boyfriend, Justin Timberlake.
In a statement issued via Instagram, the former NSYNC singer began, "I’ve seen the messages, tags, comments, and concerns and I want to respond..."
Here's how it played out, and why Timberlake has apologised to Spears, nearly 20 years on.
'Cry Me A River' controversy.
In the wake of their breakup in 2002, the tabloids reported rumours that Spears, then just 21 years old, had been unfaithful to Timberlake.
Timberlake seemingly confirmed this with his 2002 single 'Cry Me A River', with the famous lyrics: "You don't have to say, what you did / I already know, I found out from him / Now there's just no chance".
The music video - released only months after the breakup - paints the picture of Timberlake as a heartbroken lover who is seeking revenge over his cheating ex. A woman with a striking resemblance to Spears was cast to play the ex.