In this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, a source close to the couple says that the Sinner actress, 37, “is standing by” the former ‘NSYNC frontman, 38, after he was seen holding hands and mingling closely with Alisha Wainwright, his costar on the upcoming film Palmer, on a balcony during an outing with friends in New Orleans on Nov. 23.
“Obviously Justin drank too much this time, but Jessica believes he didn’t cheat on her,” the source says of the couple, who have been married since 2012 and share a 4-year-old son, Silas. “What’s most important to her in life is her family and being the best mom to Silas. She’ll never break up her family over something like this.”
Timberlake has since apologized to his wife and son in a lengthy statement shared to his Instagram on Dec. 5. In the post, Timberlake assured fans that “nothing happened” between him and his costar.
“I stay away from gossip as much as I can, but for my family, I feel it is important to address recent rumors that are hurting the people I love,” he wrote. “A few weeks ago I displayed a strong lapse in judgment — but let me be clear — nothing happened between me and my costar. I drank way too much that night and I regret my behavior. I should have known better.”
“This is not the example I want to set for my son,” he continued. “I apologize to my amazing wife and family for putting them through such an embarrassing situation, and I am focused on being the best husband and father I can be. This was not that.”
A source close to Biel says “it was good” that Timberlake apologized publicly, but that “the real work he is doing is in private.”
While Timberlake is known in entertainment circles as a “natural charmer,” a music industry source says he has matured since becoming a dad.
“I don’t think he would do anything to change his current situation,” the source says. “He has grown up a lot over the past few years and enjoys every minute of being a dad. He even likes the added responsibilities.”
Of the misstep, the source says, “I doubt it will happen again.”
Another insider adds, “Jessica is a beautiful and intelligent woman; he knows that. He loves her.”
Though Biel has yet to speak out about the situation, she was spotted out in Los Angeles two days after the photos of Timberlake and Wainwright dropped wearing her wedding ring. A day after he posted his apology on Instagram, Timberlake was also photographed wearing his wedding ring on his way to a workout in New Orleans.
Wainwright, 30, whose representative has previously told PEOPLE that there is “no validity” to the romance rumors, has returned to work on the Palmer set alongside Timberlake.
“Nothing has changed or been influenced by the press reports,” a source close to the set says. “The show goes on.”
For more on Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
- Reporting by MELODY CHIU, JULIE JORDAN, LINDA MARX and JANINE RUBENSTEIN