White Actor to Play Michael Jackson in British Comedy

Producers cite 'creative freedom' in casting Joseph Fiennes

Actor Joseph Fiennes

Actor Joseph Fiennes

According to reports, actor Joseph Fiennes will play Michael Jackson in a British comedy.

[Related: Why Michael Jackson ONE is a Must-See in Las Vegas]

If the name doesn’t ring a bell, just know his portrayal will be far less similar than any other actor who has played the pop icon before: He’s white.

The choice of casting was met with outrage and sarcasm:


The show, called Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon, is set to be a dramatization of a moment between Jackson, actress Elizabeth Taylor and actor Marlon Brando, based on a 2011 Vanity Fair report in which they allegedly went on a road trip from New York to Ohio after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Whether that actually happened is disputed, but Sky Arts; the television channel it’s being produced for, called it a “lighthearted look at a reportedly true event.” It’s set to air on TV, but an exact date has not been set.

“It is part of a series of comedies about unlikely stories from arts and cultural history,” Sky Arts said in a statement, according to The New York Times.  Adding, that producers are given “the creative freedom to cast roles as they wish.”

Fiennes, 45, is an award-winning actor, having gotten honors from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) and SAG.

He said in a recent interview that the role would be “a challenge.” “I got the script the other day,” he told WENN. “It’s a comedy. It doesn’t poke mean fun but it’s a story, possibly urban legend … It’s a lovely thing about Michael’s relationship with Liz Taylor and Marlon Brando. It’s a fun, light-hearted tongue-in-cheek road trip of what celebrity of that kind is like. But also, it’s rather beautiful and poignant about their relationships as well.”