entertainment

In today's WTF news... Joseph Fiennes is going to play Michael Jackson in a movie.

Actor Joseph Fiennes will play the one and only Michael Jackson in an upcoming television special — and not everyone is thrilled with the casting choice.

In case you’ve forgotten, this is Joseph Fiennes:

Joseph Fiennes giving his BAFTA nominated turn in Shakespeare in Love.

And this is Michael Jackson in 2001:

Michael Jackson 2001
Image via Wikipedia

According to the Guardian, the Shakespeare In Love star will embody the King of Pop in a film for UK’s Sky Arts channelthat follows one of the more bizarre road trips in history: In 2001, Jackson hit the road with Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando.

The trio allegedly drove from New York to Ohio, in an an attempt to flee the city in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

Legend has it, Taylor and Brando were invited to Jackson’s concert at Madison Square Garden, and when all air transport was suspended after the attacks, the trio fled the state in a rental car.

Vanity Fair reported on the journey in 2011, stating that Brando irritated his travel-buddies by insisting they stop at “every KFC and Burger King they passed along the highway.” But Taylor’s assistant maintains the actress was never present.

MichaelJacksonElizabethTaylorGetty
Jackson and Taylor, September 7th, 2001, NYC (Image via Getty: Marcel Thomas / Contributor)
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Regardless, in a recent inteview with WENN Fiennes described the script as “a fun, light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek road trip of what celebrity of that kind is like.”

He also admitted that the role would be “a challenge”, but didn’t elaborate as to why.

Some have speculated that as a white man, it may be difficult for him to do justice to one of the most influential Africa American musicians of all time.

The issue of diversity is front and centre in Hollywood right now, in no small part because the #OscarsSoWhite campaign has been rebooted for a second year following a staggering lack of recognition for actors of colour in the nominations.

It might be noted here that Jackson suffered from a rare pigmentation condition called vitiligo, which causes the skin to lose its colour, turning it, well, white.

As Fiennes told Entertainment Tonight: “I’m a white, middle-class guy from London … I’m as shocked as you may be.

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

The things is, in an age of prosthetics and make-up that can apparently convince cinema-goers that Emma Stone is part Chinese (*cough*),  it would not have been difficult or unreasonable to find a suitably qualified black actor to fill Jackson’s iconic sparkling socks.

Just because someone has a skin condition, it doesn’t change their cultural identity…

At least Brian Cox as Brando, and Grease’s Stockard Channing as Taylor seem like pretty safe bets.

Images via Wiki Commons.

As for Fiennes, well, we’ll be impressed if he can pull off anything approaching these kinds of moves:

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