In New Movie, Michael Jackson to Be Played by a White Guy
Joseph Fiennes set to play the King of Pop
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2016 10:13 AM CST
Joseph Fiennes speaks during the "Shakespeare Uncovered" panel at the PBS 2015 Winter TCA on Jan. 20, 2015, in Pasadena, Calif.   (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
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(Newser) – In a new movie about Michael Jackson, the King of Pop will be played by ... a white British guy. Joseph Fiennes is set to play Jackson in Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon, a film that follows Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor (played by Stockard Channing), and Marlon Brando (played by Brian Cox) as they attempt a road trip from New York to California. The trip supposedly really happened, after Jackson invited Taylor and Brando to his concert at Madison Square Garden and then the 9/11 attacks kept them from being able to fly back home. Legend has it they made it to Ohio, although some insist the story isn't true, the Guardian reports. But, true or not, it will be immortalized on film with Fiennes playing a black man, a fact that has many shaking their heads:

  • The Daily Beast calls the casting "a symptom of Hollywood's deep-seated race problem." Writes Stereo Williams, "Even ... with Jackson's specific physical attributes at that point in his life—he suffered from vitiligo, which causes the skin to lose its pigment—it's not beyond reason to consider that there are qualified black actors out there that could convincingly portray Michael Jackson."
  • At Slate, Aisha Harris agrees—despite his shifting looks and persona, Jackson was still a black man. "Find the right black actor who can perfectly capture all of Jackson's complexities—his femininity, his weirdness, his naivete, and yes, his black cultural upbringing—and invest in better makeup and prosthetics than whoever was in charge of that terrible Man in the Mirror movie. Or cast a light-skinned black actor in the role."
  • Fiennes recently called the script "a challenge," and at The Root, Yesha Callahan writes, "Yeah, I can see how difficult it would be as a white man to play the black King of Pop."
  • BuzzFeed has rounded up a range of Twitter reactions to the news.