Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears
Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears are shown here still together in 2002 before he broke up with her via text in February the same year. Photo: AFP / LUCY NICHOLSON AFP / LUCY NICHOLSON

Justin Timberlake allegedly broke up with Britney Spears via text in February 2002. Music video director Chris Applebaum revealed the two-word breakup message he sent to the singer while they were shooting the music video for "Overprotected: The Darkchild Remix".

The director said they were on the second day of filming in downtown Los Angeles when he noticed she went missing for about 20 to 40 minutes. He told Page Six it was a "long time" because it costs "20 grand to sit around".

He found Spears at her trailer in a Juicy Couture sweatsuit and she held up her Motorola flip phone at him and he saw the message there allegedly from Timberlake. He remembered her saying, "I can't believe it. Look at it. This happened". The message simply read: "It's over!!!"

According to the publication, Timberlake, then 21, had been trying to reach Spears all day while she was at her shoot. Per Applebaum, the NSync singer was "pissed" about her cheating with choreographer Wade Robson.

The director recalled the singer's longtime assistant and friend, Felicia Culotta, putting her arm around Spears to comfort her. The singer was said to have been hesitant to finish the shoot but Applebaum encouraged her by saying, "If you don't have it in you, I totally understand ... but if you want to go out there and finish this last set-up in the rain, you can show him that he just made the biggest f***ing mistake of his life".

The director, whose celebrity clients also include Rihanna and Usher, then remembered the "Overprotected" hitmaker saying: "You know that? That's a good idea. I'm going to show him that he blew the best thing he ever had."

Applebaum said Spears filmed the rain sequence in the music video with even more "conviction" as if she were "on a mission". He also shared behind-the-scenes photos from the shoot taken before Timberlake sent the breakup text.

He recalled seeing the then 20-year-old Spears arriving at the set looking happy and ready to "power through" the rigorous dance scenes. He said of working with the singer: "There are those people where there is something inside of them and you don't know where it comes from — it's like an 'X' factor. That's what we saw with her. I was so happy that this person who was the biggest star in the world was everything I wanted her to be and then more."

Now 41, the "Lucky" singer has shared intimate details about the past in her memoir titled "Woman In Me". She admitted that she had been loyal to Timberlake when they dated from 1998 to 2002 except for that one time when she made out with Robson. She said she told her then-boyfriend about what happened and they were able to move on from it.

But he apparently did not take the incident lightly per Applebaum. Timberlake and Spears were together for three years and months after they split, he went on to write a song called "Cry Me A River".

The lyrics in the track spoke of a woman being unfaithful. She wrote in her memoir that the song and its music video, which featured her look-alike, villainised her and painted her as a "harlot who'd broken the heart of America's golden boy".

Spears was ultimately blamed for the breakup and the notion that she broke Timberlake's heart was once again emphasised in her interview with Diane Sawyer in 2003. The journalist said: "You broke his heart, you did something that caused him so much pain, so much suffering ... what did you do?"

Likewise, in "Woman In Me," Spears said that after her breakup with Timberlake, she returned home to Louisiana where she felt "comatose" while her ex was "happily running around Hollywood". She did not share how he broke up with her and has yet to comment on Applebaum's revelations.