Joseph Fiennes defends his role as Michael Jackson

Jan 28, 2016 at 11:09 a.m. ET
Image: Starpress/

On Wednesday it was announced that British actor Joseph Fiennes would play Michael Jackson in a Sky Arts project and everyone thought it was a joke.

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Then made some pretty valid points about double standards.


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While acknowledging that — in later life at least — Jackson looked more like a white man than a black man.


Following the social media backlash, Fiennes defended his casting as Jackson, telling Entertainment Weekly: "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 Shakespeare In Love actor later told The Wrap that they cast a white actor because they didn't have the budget to pay for prosthetics.

"I was like, 'Wait a minute, I think someone's got this wrong. I mean, really?'" he said. "The budget was too low to do prosthetics or anything, so it literally is straight-forward makeup."

Fiennes also described the role as "a challenge."

"It doesn't poke mean fun but it's a story, possibly urban legend, whereby Michael, Marlon Brando, and Liz Taylor were all together the day before 9/11 doing a concert. Airspace was shut down and they couldn't get out and Michael had the bright idea to go to hire a car and drive," he told WENN.

"So the three of them got in a car and drove 500 miles to Los Angeles. It took them a while because they had to stop at a lot of Burger Kings for Marlon; but they got out! 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."

The one-off drama will air on Sky Arts.

What do you think of the casting of Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson? Let us know your thoughts.

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