• Joseph Fiennes - the only man who could ever have played Michael Jackson. (AAP)Source: AAP
Daniel-Day Lewis as Lincoln. Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher. Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles. Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson.
By
Jeremy Cassar

28 Jan 2016 - 11:57 AM  UPDATED 28 Jan 2016 - 12:55 PM

I don’t know about you, but if anyone ever asks me who would play the King of Pop in a future biopic, the first face that graces my minds’ eye is always the brother of the Nazi villain in Schindler’s List.

And now that dream has become a reality.

Joseph Fiennes has signed on to play the late, great virtuoso in a British TV movie that tells the “true” story of an alleged road trip Jackson took with Elizabeth Taylor (Stockard Channing) and Marlon Brando (Brian Cox) right after the tragedy of 9/11. I say “alleged” because most in the know claim it never happened. In fact, Jackson's nephew says his uncle was staying with a friend in New Jersey after 9/11 and calls the portrayal "offensive".

Honesty aside, casting choices have caught Twitter’s side-eye:

I’m sure when many of you first viewed Shakespeare In Love, the first thing you thought was, “Hey, if they were going to recreate thevideo to Black or White, then this really British guy would be perfect for the part of MJ.”

This absurd news comes at perhaps the most inopportune moment, as the entertainment world is right in the midst of #oscarssowhite discussions. Jackson was, for the second-half of his life, the butt of skin-colour jokes, and this casting choice could be interpreted as a continuation of that sentiment.

When Entertainment Tonight raised the issue, Fiennes called the choice “not in any way malicious” and said the script was “endearing”. He even went so far as to make the statement nobody thought he’d make:

“[Jackson] definitely had an issue — a pigmentation issue — and that’s something I do believe. He was probably closer to my color than his original color.”

Have we learnt nothing from the casting of Emma Stone as a half-Asian woman? 

Whatever you may think of the project, Fiennes is quite obviously swept up in the excitement. He tells WENN:

“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.”

Tongue-in-cheek? Is that how we’re supposed to view these casting choices? Perhaps this whole thing is a ruse to keep us on our toes; to test whether or not we can pretend this kind of casting is acceptable.

Next up? A lighthearted biopic with Paul Giamatti playing Amy Winehouse.