Joseph Fiennes cast as Michael Jackson in post-9/11 road trip movie: what?


Joseph Fiennes was a pretty big deal in the tailend of the 20th century. He was getting major lead roles in big films and he was the Cumberbatch/Hiddleston of his day, with a rabid, crazy fanbase. And then… it all sort of went away. It was difficult to figure out what exactly happened, but Joseph was no longer a thing. I do think he’s a talented actor and I always hoped he would figure out a way to have some kind of comeback. But not this way. You see, Joseph has scored the lead in a controversial new movie. He’s going to play Michael Jackson. I sh-t you not.

This is casting news we certainly weren’t expecting to hear. British actor Joseph Fiennes will portray Michael Jackson in an upcoming film based on an alleged road trip following the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, the Guardian reports. The drama is based on a 2011 story in Vanity Fair, which revealed details of the expedition after all air travel to and from New York was grounded as a result of 9/11.

The King of Pop reportedly drove from the Empire State to Ohio along with friends Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando in an attempt to make it back to California, according to Vanity Fair.

“They actually got as far as Ohio – all three of them, in a car they drove themselves,” a former employee of Jackson told the magazine.

However, an assistant for Taylor told the glossy that the actress wasn’t involved in the trip, and chose to stay in New York visiting Ground Zero and praying instead.

Despite the contradicting claims, the film will still include Taylor, played by Stockard Channing and Brian Cox is slated to play Brando.

[From People]

You can read the original Vanity Fair story here – Michael, Elizabeth and Marlon had been in New York for Michael’s Madison Square Garden concerts (Sept. 7 and 10, 2001) and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it’s alleged that the three friends took a crazy roadtrip to try to get back to California. While I think there’s definitely the potential for an interesting/crazy film there, I really don’t understand why Joseph Fiennes would be cast as Michael. Like… how? Why? I know people will say “but Michael had his skin lightened!” or “MJ had so much plastic surgery at that point, he did sort of look like Joseph Fiennes!” But it’s still a big NO. I do love the fact that these casting-whitewashing stories are getting so much press these days though.


Here are some photos of MJ and Elizabeth on September 7, 2001.



Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet and WENN.


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244 Responses to “Joseph Fiennes cast as Michael Jackson in post-9/11 road trip movie: what?”

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  1. embertine says:

    Wow. I. I have no idea how on earth you would cast anyone who could play MJ, as he didn’t even look human at that point, but. What.

  2. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    Ok. It’s not April 1st, so wtf?

    • Pinky says:

      It’s bizarre. Jackson always considered himself a black man, despite his vitiligo and subsequent skin bleaching to mask it.

      I was at that 2001 concert. And then, of course, there on 9/11 (I’d also had a premonition about those planes). This is a fun idea for a movie, but this casting is offensive on so many levels, even if it is a comedy. Some day in 3099, all casting might be colorblind, but with today’s whitewashing of history and diversity problems, that hour ain’t nigh.


    • funcakes says:

      Should we be discussing this? I wouldn’t want Charlotte Ramping to accuse everyone of being racist.

  3. SusanneToo says:

    Is it April 1st already? Time really flies.

  4. jeanpierre says:

    I can’t. This Is shameful for everyone involved.

  5. Darkladi says:

    Someone’s taking the piss, right? April Fools?

  6. Insomniac says:

    That’s beyond awful. I binge watched “American Horror Story: Asylum” while I was snowbound and he’s a good actor, but that is reprehensible casting.

  7. Sixer says:

    “I sh-t you not” was about my reaction this morning.

    This is disappointing on so many levels from a Brit point of view. It’s going to be shown by Sky Arts who have been making loud noises about improving BAME representation and how they’re going to be the best in the UK at it. It’s the first production out of Ralf Little’s new set-up and he SHOULD KNOW BETTER.

    It’s SO ridiculous that you want to laugh. But it’s just not funny at all.

  8. Freebunny says:

    Who could play Mickael Jackson besides Mickeal Jackson?
    It’s not like some actor naturally looks like him.

  9. Lucy2 says:

    That road trip sounds insane, I can’t believe I’ve never heard about it before.
    Even more insane is this casting choice.

  10. OriginalMeh says:

    He doesn’t look anything like Michael Jackson before or after his plastic surgery. I imagine they will have to use a lot of makeup and editing at which point they could have just cast a person of color. 😑

    • Josefina says:

      … Except a person of color would only need more makeup and editing to look like ’00s MJ.

      I’m not saying this doesn’t make me uncomfortable, but I definitely think this isn’t at all comparable to the Charlie Hunnam casting as Edgar Valdez. Latin America is not short of white-skinned actors. How many white-skinned black actors who look like ’00s MJ can you name?

      Looks-wise, the best choice I can think of for the role Liza Minelli. A 70 year old white woman playing a black man. Crazy, just like everything else about Michael Jackson.

      • Renee28 says:

        There are light skinned black people. Black people come in more than one shade.

      • Crocuta says:

        Renee28: Can you name one as light skinned as 2001 Michael Jackson? I’m genuinely curious. Because Liza Minelli so far indeed sounds the closest.

      • Hannah says:

        Huh????? Just like white people, black people do not all have the same skin tone.
        My family is very racially mixed, some of my cousins who are mixed raced are not much darker then my own white skin. if you think every poc have the same skin tone you clearly haven’t been around poc much. Even within siblings the skin tones can vary a great deal, especially in mixed raced families.
        There are mixed raced people out there who have what you’d call white skin.
        Fiennes doesn’t even look like mj in facial features his jawline and long nose is completely different for one. They would have to use a lot of make up and possibly even prostetics to make him look similar. The skin tone is a minor thing compared to reconstructing facial features.

      • Crocuta says:

        I think Michael Ealy is not even close. He’s lighter skinned, that’s all. I meant light skinned enough to come close to Jackson’s level (the way Fiennes does).

      • Kitten says:

        My beautiful 3-year-old cousin is bi-racial with medium-complected skin and PLATINUM (not dirty blonde) curls. He could easily pass for white.

        I hate to admit that the story behind this movie piqued has me curious…very odd casting though.

      • Crocuta says:

        I think many non-white people can pass for white. Even I know some. That’s not the point though. How many can pass for Michael Jackson type of white? I mean he really went too far in his changes, with skin tone and surgery to change his nose and all. And he used to be handsome when young. :/

        I kind of find it amusing how all best ideas for his casting have been white women so far. It’s bad from lack of diversity point of view, but it is eerily correct look-wise.

      • Hannah says:

        Wentworth Miller is one mixed raced actor who is just as white as fiennes if you need the actor to have the same skin tone as fiennes to be qualified.
        Can you explain why you feel it’s important that the actor has the exact same skin tone?
        Mjs stong jawline and nose looks NOTHING like fiennes rather large long nose and narrow jawline. Usually when someone a white actor is cast in a bio pic we talk about resemblance in terms face of not exact skin.

        Was Alan Turing a freckled ginger? No. Didn’t stop cumverbatch from playing him did it.
        So this obsession with skin/ exact coloruing only comes into play when we talk about poc actors?

      • Crocuta says:

        Wentworth Miller is actually a much better choice, I agree.

        As for the tone of skin: I’ve worked with make-up and it’s much easier and cheaper to have a similar tone and you just adjust it than it is to change it completely. Not just the face, f.e. hands wouldn’t even have to be changed in the case of an actor of an enough similar completion. And I suspect any film made about MJ would pay less respect to detail about his features than to the fact that he went full white-skin via surgery. Because he was so insanely famous for it. Many people change their nose, not many go to change their skin to fit another race.

        And I didn’t like the Alan Turing casting either.

      • Josefina says:

        Of course they do. But the only black person as white as ’00s MJ I can think of is Diandra Forrest. Who has albinism.

        I’m South American and a PoC myself. I’ve seen a lot of black people in my life and I have never encountered one as pale, white and frail as Michael Jackson. He got that skin tone from vitiligo (a rare disease) and from bleaching his own skin (an artificial method), and now you’re trying to convince me that skin tone is natural and even common among African Americans?

        I’m not defending Fiennes’ casting because he doesn’t look like MJ at all. I’m just saying, for this particular character who had a very, VERY odd life, AND FOR THIS ONE PARTICULAR CHARACTER ONLY, I can understand why a white person be cast. That doesn’t mean black people couldn’t have been up to contention as well.

      • Crocuta says:

        I just wanted to add that I personally think that when casting actors to play real people, you have to go as close as humanly possible with the looks. That and acting. I prefer that to any nationality, ethnic background, language they speak etc. Because film is firstly a visual media. And while make-up can do wonders, nothing beats natural.

      • Hannah says:

        here in the uk I know many mixed raced people who are just as white as Joseph fiennes. ( which was the point no one said anything about vitiligo) Maybe you should come visit and broaden your mind a little?
        I thought we were discussing the possibility of finding a black actor with similar skin tone to fiennes.You previously suggested this is impossible because such poc people does not exist according to you. Tell that to wentworth Miller, rashida Jones or Jennifer beals
        Now it’s about the frailty and mjs skin disease? This qualifies fiennes better how? He looks neither frail or afflicted with any kind of skin disease. hes going to have to loose weight, use a fake nose, change jaw, use lots of make up. Which begs the question what’s the difference in using him or some poc actor? You are still going to have to go through some trouble whoever you cast. It’s not as fiennes is a deadringer.


      • Nancy says:

        @Kitten: Me too, can you imagine Elizabeth Taylor, Brando and Michael Jackson running for their lives. That had to be one hell of a road trip….although who fed the story to Vanity Fair. Considering all of the above are deceased, there will certainly be a lot of truth to find….no fact checkers…I was working in Cleveland that day and that terrorist plane did turn in our area…..was that MJ I saw driving by with two large people hovering in the back seat……only the Shadow knows!

      • Crocuta says:

        Pinky, I know the issue and I in general agree. But in case of Michael Jackson specificly I agree with Josefina.
        There are not many other celebs who would actively work to change their race.

      • Josefina says:

        For the 267234th time, I’M NOT SAYING BLACK PEOPLE AREN’T ELLIGIBLE! I’m just saying for this one particular role I understand why a white guy (Joseph Fiennes is the only white guy in the world? Why are you still acting like I defend his particular casting when I’m not?) would be cast as it’d be more cost-efficient. I don’t see how this is comparable to the Hunnam-Valdez situation other than the cast actor doesn’t look like the character at all.

        As for your examples, Rashida is quite clearly darker skinned than Fiennes (and she’s half-white, which racially speaking Michael wasn’t). Miller is just as white because his black ancestry goes no further than his grandparents and other than that he’s as European as the Eiffel Tower. I fail to see where you’re going with these examples.

        I don’t need to go to the UK to see mixed race people. I’m latin, I’m mixed race myself like almost all latinos are and I live in a continent built off miscegenation.

        Read all the comments I wrote yesterday on the Hunnam article. I get all the points made. I just think for this one particular role there were non-racist reasons to choose a white guy over a black man. Personally, I would’ve cast an old white woman since that’s what Michael most looked like.

      • Nancy says:

        @Josefina. I think it’s sad you have to defend your position. Michael had issues with his appearance and all of his actions have proven this, so I get it. However, I believe a black man should have been chosen. Back in the 60′s Natalie Wood was chosen to portray Puerto Rican Maria with much controversy. Rita Morano was the only Puerto Rican to actually be cast. In this case I think it was a grave error to chose Fiennes to play Michael. I’m sure there are plenty of black actors who would be happy to have the role, since if done properly, this movie could be something to see. I understand this site is for debate, but I hate when someone gets attacked for their opinion and I believe yours is being misinterpreted.

      • Hannah says:

        I feel like you are confusing matters a little. We were discussing your notion that only a white actor could play mj. A lot of us have tried to explain that there are very light skinned black people around. Apparently this isn’t something your are familiar with or believe to be possible?
        FYI Miller has said and I quote: my father is black and my mother is white.”
        I puzzled at how it came to be that you are more of an authority on his racial identity then Miller himself. Like I said in my original post a light skinned black guy or even a Latino actor with the right colour eyes and hair could work too. Are you actually ready to throw out Miller as a suggestion because he’s not black enough according to you?
        I am confused at what your point here actually is?

        On rashida Jones, she is not much darker than fiennes. shes on of those actresses that never get cast as the black girl and many people don’t even realise she’s black. I only mentioned her because of your previous post.
        I thought Evan Ross was an inspired suggestion. At least he looks like mj but my guess is you are going to say he’s not the right shade of white? Am I right? 😜

      • crtb says:

        Why is it not a problem for white actor’s skin to be darken to play Egyptians, Cleopatra, Indians (both American and from India) Asians… but OMG you can’t think of one Black person who could play the part of a black man?

      • Crocuta says:

        @Cliniqua: I am among those people who don’t believe Michael had vitilago and that his reasons were quite different. Perhaps that helps you to understand why in his case (and only in his case, not in other whitewashing cases) I do not loose sleep over the casting decision.
        And BTW, although MJ was pale even for a white person, that light skin colour still isn’t rare, just less common.

        @crtb: It is a problem. You shouldn’t darken anybody’s skin to play Egyptians, Indians etc. Find an actor who naturally looks the part.

    • nches says:

      Michael Ealy? I hope you’re joking. The only person who would not need lots of makeup to look like MJ is Sandra Bullock. Or Liza Minnelli. of course I know black people come in many shades because I’m a black person living in America. but not everything calls for unnecessary outrage. MJ wasn’t only white during that period. He was pale and frail. please don’t mention Michael Ealy again (bad actor who should stick to romance) cos it only makes it sound like you’re trolling.
      however, I’m open to other sensible black choices though they don’t exist

    • Violet says:

      Transforming him into Michael is going to take massive amounts of make up and prosthetics, some of the comments here are beyond stupid. Michael was very pale but even then he didn’t look like an actual white person, he looked extremely unnatural and mannequin-ish at that time in his life – there is absolutely no need to cast a white man to make this whole thing look authentic. It is the same old bs as per…

  11. ell says:

    i just don’t know what to do with this piece of information now. what’s wrong with the hollywood lot? because there’s definitely something wrong. how would you think this a good idea at all?

  12. Jegede says:

    MJ would probably be happy with this news.

    • Naya says:

      MJ wasnt trying to look like some basic white guy with a middling acting career. He was going for Liz Taylor/Liza Minelli. In other words, a white diva. Michael was so feminised towards the end that it makes more sense to cast Zoe Kravitz and lighten her skin with make up than it does to higher this guy and throw on all manner of prosthetics/contacts on him. Not to mention whatever they would have to do to get rid of his pink skin base and replace it with whatever Michaels was.

  13. Liz says:

    I hope there is enough backlash on this and the Hunnam story that producers are forced to recast racially and ethnically appropriate actors. These people have no shame and they don’t get embarrassed. I would love to know the name of the producers who make the casting decisions. Specific names of directors/producers need to be called out. There needs to be transparency.

    • MrsBPitt says:

      Maybe they could get Marlon Wayans or Shawn Wayans. They played white chicks, in the movie White Chicks….just kidding, of course!

    • Andrea says:

      Why does there need to be transparency? Are you financing the movie?

      If you want to see change, don’t go watch the movie. That is the only way you will see diversity in movies. You have to hurt them where is counts and that’s in their wallets. So if there’s a movie with an all white cast, don’t spend your money watching it. Even if your interested in the story. BUT…you have to go out and support movies made with diversity (white, asian, brown, black..etc.) Otherwise they will never understand.

      I remember a conversation I heard about how male athletes get paid more then female athletes and the reason is because male athletes and leagues are more popular and generate more revenue. Money talks so if you what to watch it, you have to go out and support it with your money.

      • Liz says:

        Transparency and accountability are critical to holding people within a system -any system- to high standards. There isn’t one answer to improving opportunities for all within the Hollywoid machine and the US, in general. Money does talks, but so does acoounrability and naming names.
        Recently, Cameron Crowe was called out for the casting of Emma Stone as part Asian. He gives a seemingly sincere apology and then later hired a Caucasian actress to play Natalie Shin. Now, I and others can see he is deliberstely ignoring non-white actors. I choose not to watch any movie or TV show that he is involved with.

  14. Nancy says:

    Surely you jest. At first I couldn’t believe my eyes, then I thought well of course a white British actor would be selected to portray one of the most famous black men in our lifetime. Makes as much sense as one eccentric singer/dancer and two eccentric actors trying to drive away from a terrorist attack. Check please

    • Josefina says:

      … And he had white skin by that time period, unlike most black men.

      • censored says:

        UUUUGH ! Please Stop , this is no way defensible in any shape or form, there are like literally hundred of black MJ impersonators who capture exactly what he looked like at that time. There have even been a few movies with realistic Black MJ actors

      • crtb says:

        are you serious? How many men of any color look like MJ? Any actor who takes this role will have to have a ton of make up, wigs and that rubber stuff (can’t think of the name to change their features. So if they are going to have to this much work to make an actor look like MJ why not give the job to a man of color?

      • Josefina says:

        I defended the casting choice because you’re the first person to properly explain why a black person must’ve been chosen for the role. The argument everyone else had given me up until now was that black people can have lighter skin tones (citing as examples people with direct European ancestry). They didn’t ellaborate any further than that, actually making the case for skin-tone-accuracy stronger by making their whole argument about PoC with lighter skin tones.

        Thank you for explaining why Michael Jackson’s race in this movie was important despite his looks not matching that of most actors who could’ve taken the role. I get it now.

        I’m willing to learn about this. I’m willing to have people correct me on my mistakes. But when people like you go around shutting people down, calling us ignorant and racist, assuming we are incapable of learning, and looking down on whatever we have to say with a pointed tone of superiority, one just wants to leave the discussion and never hear about it anymore. I care about this discussion – that’s why I’m discussing this topic. If you want this to be talked about, you have to be willing to listen to other side and discuss with them with respect. I’m more than willing to have someone respectfully read me on my mistakes. I’m not here to be called an ignorant PoS and a hateful person based on a single flying opinion I wrote on a gossip forum.

      • Nancy says:

        Josefina: I had your back at 11 this morning and posted it. I think it’s rude and disturbing when a person gets such sh!t on a forum such as this. You weren’t being called out for a mistake as you put it, you were in my opinion in some of these posts being bullied. Absolute nonsense like you say on what is supposed to be an entertaining gossip site. I’m quite sure you aren’t being entertained. Take it with a grain of salt……these are internet people who you don’t know and don’t need to apologize to. Have a cup a tea, a shot of whiskey, whatever makes you calm and start over tomorrow. It’s just one of those days when you can’t undo what was a simple post and turned into a monster. Forget about it!

      • Farhi says:

        I have to keep reminding myself this is a celebrity gossip site not Outrage Central though I guess outrage brings in more clicks.
        I hope nobody is under an impression that posting on a site called Celebitchy does something to right social ills.
        Though you do get a “celebrity” treatment here from time to time from people disagreeing with you – they will pick you apart and assume the worst.

  15. NewWester says:

    I will add this movie to my list which includes “The People vs OJ. Simpson (starring John Travolta’s hairpiece) to binge watch during a rainy weekend at the cottage. Might be fun for laughs

  16. popodamofo says:

    This is so ridiculous it’s hard to take seriously… wtf?

  17. MexicanMonkey says:

    I genuinely understand the outrage, and I don’t think the movie should be happening at all. But, if they ever do a movie about the later years of Michael Jackson, who should play him? Should they cast a black actor and use makeup to make him look as white as MJ eventually did? Or would that be offensive?

    This question is not meant to be trollish at all. Just trying to understand this from a perspective of someone would know better i.e an American.

    • Hannah says:

      You do realise black people come on many skin tones right?
      They can easily find a light skinned black/ mixed actor. Even a Latino actor would be better than some posh white Englishman.

    • Ennie says:

      Mention some that fit the bill.
      I’d go to his sisters, Latoya, but she is curvy, same with the younger one.
      I am more worried about his body type if they are going to cast a white person. Michael had such a slim, lite body, on top of all the medical changes he went trough to not look like himself. Not just anyone can play him.
      Sandra Bullock could, but I suspect his family would be more outraged by that than if they picked a white man.

  18. mom2two says:

    I can only say this. What?

    In what world is this casting okay?

  19. Hannah says:

    Apparently if you are a white British actor no part is too farfetched. What’s next? Kate winslet as Oprah Winfrey? Benedict cumberbatch as Martin Luther King?
    emily blunt as rosa parks? Tom hardy as marvin gay?

  20. Magpie says:

    But Stockard Channing as Liz is perfect!

  21. Josefina says:

    Michael Jackson had white skin in the period this movie is set. Black people the vast majority of the time don’t have white skin. Finding a latin guy who looks like Edgar Valdez ain’t hard. Finding a black man who looks like ’00s Michael Jackson definitely is. Not that Joseph Fiennes looks like him, but for this one particular role, I actually understand why a white guy would be picked.

  22. Jacqueline says:

    I’m pretty sure anyone with a nose is over-qualified to play MJ. I had forgotten how freaky he looked.

  23. nches says:

    I’m sorry but I don’t see what’s wrong. Lemme also point out that I’m black. I’m sure Michael would love this seeing as he did everything humanly possible to not be black. I always thought Sandra Bullock would play Michael in a biopic. Even my mom went WHAaattt? too but at this point she knows that even the lightest skinned black male actor would need more makeup than Fiennes in order to look like MJ.
    Seems like another pointless outrage but I’m not saying a thing about this one. Michael clearly had WHITE skin not LIGHTKINNED BLACK skin.
    Any suggestions about a better choice would be welcome

  24. islandwalker says:

    And…we have officially lost all reason.

  25. Miss Grace Jones says:

    The most bizarre part of this story is people defending it and saying it’s either what Michael would have wanted (because they’re obviously misinformed about his vitiligo and self esteem issues therefore the bleaching to look the same all over) or people so mind boggingly stupid as to think that no black actor could play him because of his skin issues (because apparently they’ve seen a total of three black people in their life?).

  26. Ninks says:

    ????…. and yet Idris Elba is too ‘English’ to play James Bond.

    • crtb says:

      I think you got the quote incorrect
      “Idris Elba is a bit too rough to play the part. It’s not a color issue. I think he is probably a bit too ‘street’ for Bond. Is it a question of being suave? Yeah.”

      • Ennie says:

        I agree with you in this one. This particular current Bond is not very “suave”, he is a long depart from former Bonds, maybe Sean connery was a more happy medium, but Daniel Craig is rough and I do not see a reason why Idris cannot play it. I understand their classist claims, but they could make it work and add the “background” for the character to make it right.

  27. PunkyMomma says:

    It’s not April 1st yet, so I guess this story has legs. But wouldn’t a Michael Jackson biopic be better served with Tilda Swinton rather then Joseph Fiennes?

  28. Adrien says:

    How about not doing the film at all? Even if you find the appropriate actor to play MJ, the movie sounds silly.

  29. Karen says:

    Are people defending this by saying black people would need more makeup then the white guy to play him? Ummmm, they’re actors. Makeup to become a character is the job.

    Plus that nose alone is going to put whoever plays him in the makeup chair for hours. Add in the eye makeup and the wig too. Seriously, I don’t think the foundation shade is hardest part of the makeup artists job here.

  30. I Choose Me says:

    Oh, come on. Just hire a black actor put him in makeup (Fiennes would have to have makeup to look like Michael anyway) and done.

    I have so many questions like, why do this film at all? What kind of story are they going to tell? Was someone else with them on the trip and privvy to their conversation? Is Joseph Fiennes so hard up for work?

  31. FF says:

    Well, he had treatment for vitilligo so his pigment was gone in some places, and barely there in others.

    People always make out that MJ looked inhuman but he just had that 80s nose, and was extremely pale – as you’d expect given his treatment and disorder – and underweight.

    This sounds like the film will be mocking him though, so all they have to do is cater to the caricature that lives so strongly in the public imagination.

    The black community likely won’t defend him, and white media likes to represent him as a joke, so… I guess this will be the first of many.

  32. FingerBinger says:

    When did Joseph Fiennes ever have a rabid crazy fanbase? When was he ever that popular?

    • LAK says:

      For 6mths after the 1-2 punch of ELIZABETH [he played Leicester] and SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE [Played Shakespeare].

      Don’t know about USA, but in London, he was IT for those six months. then he gave this interview saying all the fame was freaking him out and he was going to india to get away from it.

      i guess he got his wish. He disappeared for about a year, re-surfaced in theatre and whether by design or chance, he started working on low tier film/TV projects.

      • Scarlet Vixen says:

        I was CRUSHED when he decided to disappear. It’s a bit embarassing to admit now that I’m a grown ass woman and mom, but I was ridiculously madly in love with this man from the first moment he showed up on screen in Shakespeare in Love. I was 18 at the time. Never before–or since–have I ever been one to lust over celebrities, but Joseph Fiennes was a bit of an obsession for me. (Now that I think of it, my ex-husband’s resemblance to him could very well have played a part in that [doomed] marriage…)

        But as much as I love this beautiful man, this casting is a big fat NOPE for me. You’re better than this mess, mate.

      • supposedtobeworking says:

        And the English Patient. He was beautiful in that film.

      • LAK says:

        Scarlet vixen, i’m there with your 18yr self. i’m only a few years older than you, but i had a mad crush on him those 6mths.

        Supposedtobeowrking: That’s his brother Ralph in THE ENGLISH PATIENT. aka Lord Voldemort/ M these days.

      • Ennie says:

        Ralph was just beautiful , still is, but he was crazily sexy, even in Red Dragon.
        HE is such a good actor that he made me really despise him in Schindler’s List.
        His brother, to me=cute, no comparison.

      • Backstage Bitchy says:

        @scarlettvixen- 1) love your name 2) I couldn’t disagree more. I was around the same age and I remember clearly thinking “why didn’t they cast a cute guy for this role?” and the whole film, I remember being distracted from the plot because I kept thinking, “I don’t get this movie. Is he supposed to be THE GUY?” I kept waiting for a guy with even a modicum of attractiveness to appear and rescue Gwynnie’s character from her wretched options, which included him. Isn’t that funny? I knew he was an up-and-coming star after that movie, but it never even occurred to me that people actually fancied him.

    • supposedtobeworking says:

      @LAK – thanks, I had no idea there were two of them because Ralph had been gone so long. And I haven’t seen any of the Harry Potter movies.

      • LAK says:

        They are a big artsy family, all, except one, in the media. 2 siblings are directors, 2 are actors, a composer and one who is doing a non artsy job and prefers to remain completely private. The ones in the media tend to cross paths professionally, but at least they don’t resemble so closely that it is confusing.

  33. Maxime DuCamp says:

    WTF is right. I remember not so long ago I was watching some show about Shakespeare on PBS that featured Joseph Fiennes and thinking, “wonder what happened to his career?” I may be misremembering but I also seem to recall reading back in the day that he had stepped away from the limelight because he didn’t like it, although that could’ve been the after-the-fact excuse of someone who everyone thought would make it big and didn’t. Anyway, I was seeing a movie the other day and saw the trailer for “Risen” and thought it was an odd choice of roles for him (especially if it’s meant to be some sort of comeback role), but even that couldn’t have prepared me for this news. Honestly, I’m surprised that they were able to keep it quiet for so long.

  34. claire says:

    It sounds like a joke movie. I don’t know if that is intentional or not.
    I’m confused by the write-up about Joseph. I don’t ever remember him being a big deal at all. He did Shakespeare in Love and then what? It seemed like he kind of faded away. I guess I missed him being a big deal somewhere along the line.

  35. Tig says:

    This is a head scratcher for sure. I think Joseph F is a fine actor, but this?? And shouldn’t age factor in as well? He’s way too old( or old looking) to convincingly portray MJ of that era. The only thing I can come up with is shock casting, like Cate Blanchette playing Bob Dylan for about 10 mins in that film. But this is such a bad idea.

  36. Zaid says:

    How about that guy that played a parody of MJ in those Scary Movies?

  37. M.A.F. says:

    I saw this story yesterday. Regardless if the story is real or not, those three in a car, road tripping sounds hilarious.

  38. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    How in the hell are some of you having a problem with Hunnam playing someone who’s half white but finding no fault with this?

  39. msd says:

    People keep saying that his skin was so white by then that they need to get a white actor but why, when so much else in this film is going to simply made up, is THAT the thing that has to be accurate? The events will be fictional, the dialogue will be fictional, hell it seems like the fact that Liz Taylor was even there will be fictional, and yet you can’t use an African-American or another non-white actor just because it will seem fake? Talk about being selective with ‘accuracy’. It’s just not right when there are already so few roles for non-white actors to have a white guy in the role. And I don’t see why they can’t use makeup. Sure some people will cry ‘whiteface’ but I don’t see how it would be that at all. The makeup would be portraying a medical condition, not a race change.

  40. Alex says:

    If I were RF I wouldn’t touch this role with a 10 foot pole

  41. barca4ever says:

    Yeah not offended as a black person. I have seen all types of black people, many who could pass for white and maybe there are black actors who could play him. I often get offended by the whitewashing because i think it is disrespectful to a persons legacy to change their heritage but Michael spent years running away from his. He might be a black icon but really he seems to have just preferred to be an icon. I bet he would have been happy at the casting choice.

    • MellyMel says:

      He was not running from his heritage. He had vitiligo and bleached his skin so he wouldn’t have his whole body in patches of color. People really want to believe he was trying to become a white man so bad it’s ridiculous.

      • censored says:

        I do NOT agree with this casting but I do find the vitiligo defense tiresome
        Yeh he probably had it but this condition doesn’t make you pinch off your nose, thin your lips, plus tons of other plastic surgery and it certainly doesn’t make one desperately try to convince the world that you are the biological father of blue eyed blond fully white kids,
        Its hard to deny that he clearly has some fixation with whiteness but that does not justify this casting decision

        P.S there are also recent reports that harsh chemicals used improperly in skin bleaching can cause vitiligo so for MJ which came first the chicken or the egg ???

      • Ennie says:

        I do not know what was in his head, but I think he was surely rejecting something in himself, to the point of having children apparently not actually biologically his.
        He was very damaged, poor soul, he did not have a heathy life. He had so much talent and so much creativity.

      • censored says:

        I agree, some posters dont seem to realize that what they are saying is that his skin conditions and psychological issues are MORE important than who he was genetically, his family history his cultural upbringing all which helped make him the superstar was
        Bear in mind this is a REAL person not a fictional character

    • Jegede says:


      Exactly. No offence from me either. I can’t even feign outrage.

      On top of that, Michael also married white women, who managed to bear him white – NOT mixed race- children to carry on his name.
      His choice of course but it is what it is.
      (Though his post mortem apparently indicated Michael was very capable of producing sperm so that makes me wonder).

  42. Nikki says:

    This is really like a JOKE it’s so wrong!! There was a Broadway Show about a homely woman with no prospects, and Kathy Bates played the lead. When they made the movie (Frankie and Johnnie), Kathy Bates was dumbfounded to learn Michelle Pfeiffer was playing the ugly duckling! Because that’s how Hollywood deals with reality! But this is a new low: unfathomable idiocy!

  43. CK says:

    Yep, there is absolutely no need for this. Anyone playing Michael Jackson, a black man with a pale, milky skin tone, would need to go through extensive make up, wear some prosthetics and a wig. There is no reason why it couldn’t be a black actor and No, that’s not whiteface because Michael Jackson was never a white man. I hope this tanks.

    • Gina says:

      this is funny, because at that point his skin was whiter than average white person’s skin. So casting a black actor would be at least ridiculous. It would be “politically correct”, though, to find another black actor who underwent the same surgeries and bleaching to become white. Then would you be happy?

      • CK says:

        Gina, you’ve shown yourself to be tone deaf and ridiculous on issues of race at various times in the past. I really don’t know why you lurk around here when it’s clear that you would be happier on Stormfront defending Charlotte Rampling. You’d fit in there.

  44. QQ says:

    *observes this trash fire from the sidelines after consuming an egg sandwich fried in weed oil and still my eyes aren’t narrowed or menacing enough to be able to can with this sh!t*

  45. Gina says:

    You all are right, people. Jackson should be played by David Oyelowo or Chiwetel Ejiofor because they look exactly like MJ in his last days. Say “no” to whitewashing!

  46. HK9 says:

    Why do I feel as if I’ve slipped down the rabbit hole??

  47. Liz says:

    This TV movie is alrrady in post-production. The gate keepers who thought casting Joseph as the icon Michael Jackson was a great idea include: Directo Ben Palmer, Writer and Associate Producer Neil Forsyth, Executive Producer Raif Little, Zoe Rocha. These people, including the actor, perpetuate the status quo.

    The actor Charlie Hunnam is one of 3 producers (Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner) who approve the biased casting of a British actor as a Mexican-American man.

  48. Cassie says:

    Michael’s skin went through too many chemical treatments to make it whiter than any White person I know including myself.

    There are several shades of skin color for Black people but there is no Black person who has the White skin’s shade Michael Jackson had.

    I’m from Brazil and i’ve met several mixed race people Black/White I never found anyone looking any little close to Michael Jackson.

    Any Black actor who has the facial similarities with MIchael can play him before he became White.

    And Joseph doesn’t look any little bit similar to Michael so loads of effects and makeup is needed.

    • Leah says:

      “There are several shades of skin color for Black people but there is no Black person who has the White skin’s shade Michael Jackson had.”

      To speak in such absolutes about a whole ethnicity is nothing less then foolish. There are mixed raced kids who are whiter than Michael jackson ever managed to be. Kids with blonde hair and green or blue eyes. Furthermore Jackson used make up to cover up his uneven skin tone due to skin disease, he was not actually that shade of white all over from what i understand. Clearly there is no actor out there that looks exactly like him with skin disease and all.
      I feel you are missing the point here. Jackson was factually speaking an african american man, that was his experience and history, origin, casting should honour the essence of the man. His medical condition shouldn’t be the most important thing.

    • Ennie says:

      His vitiligo and whatever he got on his skin took him to albino shade. Looked unnatural, sickly, and like he did not produce any melanin. That is why hardly anyone would have his skin tone, be it of any race.

  49. thaisajs says:

    They couldn’t cast a black actor and just use makeup to get Michael Jackson’s skin tone at that point in his life? Cmon. Poor choices made all around here. And shame on Joseph Fiennes for thinking this was a good idea.

  50. Farhi says:

    It is not about the skin color, it is about the essence of a person, who he was, where he came from. An actor doesn’t have to look the same or even similar as long as he/ she can project who the person really was.
    There is no doubt in my mind that a black person would do a better job as MJ and a Mexican would do a better job as Valdez. Cultural differences are not easy to learn or replicate as an actor and people who didn’t grow up in that culture often don’t even pick up on them. For illustration of that point see about every adaptation of a Russian classic like the “War & Peace” currently shown by BBC.
    As for MJ, I don’t think it is even necessary to use make up to adjust the actor’s skin tone. His skin didn’t make him who he was, and that applies to everybody else as well , in my opinion.

  51. Leah says:

    I have a question. At what point do white actors take some responsibility in this?

    • Ennie says:

      A job is a job, I say.
      Maybe some big time actors who have it made can have the luxury to reject a gig, but others, particularly women and up and coming or struggling actors will take what they get.
      This would apply too to those “ethnic” actors who will take any job they can get, including those as maids, ethnic sex bombs, gangsters, slaves, rappers, etc. because that is what they get offered, even if they are enforcing stereotypes. Example: Adriana Barraza has done two maid acting jobs in American movies, when in Mexico she works in much diverse jobs, Not as maid every time.

  52. wow says:

    …And yet some people still take issue over Idris Elba being a possible future James Bond? M’kay *smacks lips*

  53. Miss Melissa says:

    His casting is bizarre.

    But the other two (Stockard Channing and Brian Cox)? Inspired.

  54. Locke Lamora says:

    I haven’t read the Charlie Hunnam story yesterday and I have a few questions. I googled the guy he’s supposed to play and he kinda looks like him because the guy was blonde and blue eyed. Does just being from Latin America make someone not white in the US? Like, is Louis CK not white? Or the Dutch Queen Maxima? Or is it just a cultural thing? If it’s just a cultural thing why is it okay for Keira Knightley to play Ana Karenjina? Or various American actors who played Russians and Germans and South Africans, etc while just putting on bad accents?
    I’m genuinely asking, really not trying to be offensive, but all this is extremely confusing for someone like me who’s from a country where virtually everyone is white and racial matters are hardly ever discussed.

    • Farhi says:

      In the US ‘ Hispanic’ is its own category . When you fill out any kind of official form like an employment application or a college application it will usually have the following categories for race – White (not Hispanic), African-American (Black), Asian, Native American, Pacific Islander (Hawaiian), Hispanic/ Latino, Other.

      Race is an outdated concept. A number of these groups are not actually races as others understand them. But I am not sure what is a better alternative is that would work in the US. I don’t think ‘ethnicity’ would work because there are too many of them.

    • lunchcoma says:

      Hispanic is an ethnicity. People who are Hispanic can be of any race. In the US, at least, there is both current and a history of past discrimination against many people who have this background, and Hispanic actors are underrepresented in American productions. Because of that, whitewashing them by casting white non-Hispanic actors instead of white Hispanic actors matters. Queen Maxima would probably check the white (Hispanic) box on an application. Louis C.K. has parents from different backgrounds and might check that box, the white (not Hispanic) one, both, or skip the question.

      We generally don’t have the same history of discriminating against, say, Germans and white South Africans in the US. Other countries may differ when it comes to this. That being said, I certainly wouldn’t mind it if we got rid of some of the bad accents or if someone made Anna Karenina with Russian actors instead of the usual production with British accents.

  55. BB says:

    This is extremely offensive because Michael Jackson was a black man, and despite what some may think, always identified himself as such. He was never trying to look white or be white, he was trying not to look like himself because he had extreme self esteem and body image issues. He looked almost inhuman at the end. A black actor wearing makeup and prosthetics would not be doing so called “white face” because Michael Jackson was not white. This is just ten shades of ridiculous. I mean, the premise sounds like it could be a fun movie (totally made up story, or not) but the casting decision just turned it into a massive dumpster fire. Does no one remember the VH1 TV movie in the mid 2000s made about Michael? A black actor managed to play early 2000s era Mike, again because MICHAEL JACKSON WAS BLACK. He himself wore makeup to even out his skin tone. Nope, I don’t care how strange he may have looked in the end, this is straight up disrespect. Honestly casting Janet or LaToya would have made more sense than this nonsense.

  56. Anna says:

    Looking at those pictures of MJ from around that periode… Kris Jenner is the only good choice.

  57. A.Key says:

    It’s not right, but ironically Fiennes here looks darker than Michael Jackson in these pics!

  58. Zaytabogota says:

    MJ looked more alien than human, he transcended race and humanity. No matter who plays him they’ll have to be spray painted alabaster unless they pick an albino. Ralphs nose is too big to be able to carry off a skinny MJ prosthetic nose.

  59. AlmondJoy says:

    My braid can’t even process the shenigans today. This story… The comments… It’s all mind-blowing. Gotta go.

  60. lunchcoma says:

    In addition to what’s been said, if the filmmakers really couldn’t find anyone who had black heritage who could play Michael…maybe that’s a sign that this biopic isn’t a good idea. Jackson was one of the most recognizable people in the world, and I suspect most potential viewers of this film are adults who remember him vividly. Maybe he’s not someone who needs to be portrayed on screen, or at least doesn’t need a movie made about him any time soon.

  61. Kate says:

    I think if a movie is to be made about MJ, you either have to ignore the vitiligo and the more extreme plastic surgery (this isn’t a high budget fantasy film where they’ll CGI the actors face throughout) and cast someone who looked like he did before all that, or have a woman play him, because you aren’t going to find an African American actor with anything even vaguely resembling his post surgery features.

  62. Chloe says:

    Wow! Just wow! The comments here are ridiculous. Just because Jackson was “white skinned” at the end of his life that doesn’t make him a white man.
    No wonder Hollywood get away with this shit. It seems people are completely clueless.

  63. Sarah01 says:

    These conversations are getting annoying.
    Yes change needs to happen.
    He is a good actor and i think he was a good casting choice. He’ll need to work on his voice though and tendency to overact.

    Just a side note: when I have people in my face and talking indignantly I shut down and won’t listen even if they have a valid point. If they talk with respect and even frustrated but not mean or rude I’ll listen and understand and see their point of view.

  64. The Eternal Side-Eye says:

    1. There are very few black icons who were ever given the proper respect they deserve. To have one of the few played by a white actor is absolutely unacceptable.

    2. Black people come in more than one shade and white actors should know more than anyone how easy it is to use makeup to achieve a certain look.

    3. I personally hope the outrage grows loud enough that they cancel the whole thing. Since common sense and respect is lacking then other means of achieving balance will just have to keep being used.

  65. Josie says:

    This is disrespectful to black culture. Michael Jackson is one of the most iconic figures in African American culture.
    I am ashamed that this is a British movie. Embarrassing AF.
    How would people feel if Michael b Jordan was cast as John Lennon ( it’s literally the equivalent culturally).

  66. Meemoo says:

    Just wanted to ask: for a long time this man was rumoured to be/accused on numerous occasions to be a paedophile. I just wondered – has that been proven to be untrue? I feel like it just sort of inconclusively died away when he passed and I just wanted to raise. Happy to hear any thoughts/opinions.

    • pinetree13 says:

      Meemoo, he was never convicted and so most people will hold on to that as “proof” that he was never a paedophile. This, despite the fact that since his death, a grown man said (with nothing to gain) that MJ molested him when he was 14. There have been others that came forward as well. But because he was never convicted people don’t want to hear it. For some reason lack of conviction = innocent. To me, there is WAY too much evidence that he was a pedo to ignore. I truly think that near the end he started to look like a monster because he is one. His music is tainted for me now, I can’t enjoy it.

      • Sarah01 says:

        I believe where there is smoke there is fire. Up till that point I was a huge MJ fan, then I began to realize that he had a creepy obsession with children and being child like. When I read the young mans story and others that came out and told theirs I believed that justice was not served. A lot of sexual predators don’t get prosecuted never mind convicted doesn’t mean they didn’t comitt these heinous acts.
        It’s the same with Catholic priests people knew what was going on, the higher ups protected the priests and which gave them more exposure to different children.
        Just because priests are not being prosecuted or convicted doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
        Bill Cosby got away with drugging and raping women for a long time I’m glad he’s been charged for his crimes and I hope he gets convicted too.

  67. Meemoo says:

    I know this might seem incongruous to the discussion you’re having about race, but it’s just something that has troubled me when it comes to Michael Jackson and would appreciate your thoughts.

  68. Meemoo says:

    Thanks for coming back to me. I know this is a totally separate issue, it’s just something that troubles me when it comes to Michael Jackson and I guess I just wanted to check in, because sometimes it seems like that whole issue has just sort of melted away, and perhaps not justly. This ^ (casting), if true, is a mess.

  69. Maggie says:

    He’s played Michael Jackson before. Look it up.

  70. JRenee says:

    Ridiculous and Hollywood b.s.again!

  71. JRenee says:

    There’s a video clip of Michael being interviewed by Oprah, circa 1993 where he was adamant about not having a White actor portray him because he was a proud Black man!

  72. Goodnight says:

    I thought it was pretty stupid that they cast Charlie Hunnan as El Barbi, but I could grudgingly accept it because he at least LOOKS like El Barbi and I can accept they might want his name behind the project since he has a built-in fanbase. I still think they could have found someone who was Mexican to play the role, but there was some logic behind the choice at least.

    This is 100% WTF. He isn’t a big enough name for name recognition to be a significant factor and he looks nothing. like. Michael. AT ALL.

    How goddamned hard was it to find a black person to play Michael Jackson? This is the most blatant, willful whitewashing I’ve ever seen. Holy shit.

  73. I think it’s not just about casting someone who looks like Michael. The problem with whitewashing is not just that it locks out POC from the few roles that could be available to them, but also that white people can’t understand what its like to be a POC. I think many white people, actors included, are immersed in a society that views POC cultures as inferior and dismisses their voices and perspectives. I think this will impact the performance, the actors may lean on stereotypes and caricatures to understand their character. At the end of the day we just get the white perspective as usual.

    • Goodnight says:

      I completely agree. It isn’t about finding someone who looks like Michael, it’s about the fact that Michael was a black man and it’s even more about the deeper issue of actors who aren’t white not having the same opportunities as white actors.

      It says a lot that in this industry they’ll cast a white person who looks nothing like Michael over a black person who looks nothing like Michael, despite the fact that Michael Jackson was a black man.

      Anyone who plays this role will need makeup and prosthetics, so saying ‘white people are closer in appearance to Michael of that era’ isn’t a valid argument. To make this about skin tone is to completely miss the point.

      It bothers me that some people are saying ‘I’d rather they cast someone who looks like Michael than someone who is the same ethnicity and doesn’t look as much like him”. If the casting department looked, they could find someone who was similar in appearance AND a great actor AND who is also black. They just don’t care enough to do so. It’s the same with Charlie Hunnam/El Barbi.

  74. Nene says:

    The white-washing isn’t as offensive as the bad memories it brought back- 9/11 and the portrayal of a musical genius in such frivolous way.
    I am a HUGE MJ fan and no matter how big his flaws and faults in life had been you can’t take away the fact that he was a legend and musical genius and also one of the most worldly famous person of all times. His fans around the world will want a movie made bringing his genius, greatness and generally the incredible moments of his stay on earth to life.

  75. Suzanne says:

    Wow…a LOT of posters on this topic. It’ll take me half the day to read them all. LOL
    I don’t get why they put this fellow as the choice for the part. He is not only the wrong race but he’s also NOTHING LIKE Michael in any way shape or form. Lets hope he can dance and sing!

  76. Ana says:

    Wait, so you’d rather a black actor play Michael Jackson and paint his skin to look as white as he did back then? Because if a white actor painted his skin black, it would be very offensive and widely criticized, so why is it ok to have it the other way? The casting director were clearly going for similar looks, that’s why Stockard Channing is Liz Taylor and Brian Cox Marlon Brando. Stop seeing racism everywhere, please. You’re just hurting the cause.