Joseph Fiennes: MJ ‘was probably closer to my color than his original color’


As we discussed yesterday, Joseph Fiennes was cast as Michael Jackson. Joseph Fiennes, the pale, white Englishman was cast as one of the most famous African-American entertainers of all time. The film in question is apparently a British-produced TV movie based on the Vanity Fair story (which might even be true) about MJ, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando attempting to drive back to LA after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The internet was not happy about Joseph’s casting, so much so that I guess someone thought it would be a good idea to send Joseph out to do damage control. Spoiler: it was not a good idea. Here’s what Fiennes told ET:

He gets that people are shocked with his casting: “I’m a white, middle-class guy from London. I’m as shocked as you may be.”

Why he signed on: “It’s kind of off the wall, but the writing is a delight, and the kind of interaction between the three of them is funny, and also full of pathos. It’s people who are so iconic, but also can be detached. You know, you can get detached from society. So it’s examining that kind of wonderful and mad detachment… It’s a light comedy look. It’s not in any way malicious. It’s actually endearing.”

He doesn’t think race should be an issue: “[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.”

He’s actually a huge MJ fan: “The more I actually looked at Michael. The more I kind of fell in love with him.”

[From ET]

First of all, regarding the wisdom of making this film… I can actually understand why someone thought it would make for a good movie. Just the idea of Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando trying to RENT a car is a funny idea, let alone driving themselves to Ohio and having to stop for gas and snacks. As for the wisdom of casting Joseph Fiennes… that’s still a hard no. And of course a white guy doesn’t think race should be an issue when he’s cast as an African-American.

Photos courtesy of Getty, Fame/Flynet and WENN.

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195 Responses to “Joseph Fiennes: MJ ‘was probably closer to my color than his original color’”

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  1. lilacflowers says:


    • Sixer says:


      As a Britisher, I think it only fair that my CRINGE be bigger than your cringe.

    • BeBea says:

      Ok, I’m a black woman, just to put that out there…. lol! Although he may have worded this comment in a cringe worthy way, I don’t think that I can picture anyone play Michael Jackson as an adult , I guess after a certain point MJ became kind of Clear in color to me . So the fact that a white man will be playing him is not as bothersome as and Egyptian movie with all white cast. but he should shut up about it and just kill it with acting skills, no need to make comments Mr.

      • Kitten says:

        “Clear”? Ha ha..that made me giggle for some reason.

      • Yup says:

        I think after his death the myth of MJ has grown but the truth is he’s an individual who said it didn’t matter if you were black or white but sure acted like it was better to be white. That’s the message he passed on to a whole generation of fans. You can say the skin colour was because of a skin condition, but what about the nose, the lips and the other plastic surgery or the fact that his children clearly do not have a Black father genetically? And it wasn’t like he was the only Jackson to engage in skin lightening. Shadism is a huge issue within the community and yet this guy gets a free pass.

        To be honest given the plastic surgery, I think it would be logistically very difficult for a black man to play him.

      • paranormalgirl says:

        They do amazing things with makeup now. Or they could just CGI the whole image of MJ into the film.

      • JenniferJustice says:

        Why can’t LaToya play Michael in the movie?

      • Denisemich says:

        @ JenniferJustice , LOL!. But I don’t think Latoya can act.

        I think Michael Jackson would be thrilled that Joseph Fiennes is playing him in a movie. Isn’t that why he changed every African characteristic?

      • Deedee says:

        @jennifer justice. Thats a great idea.

      • Cat says:

        @YUP he wasn’t really trying to get away from being black though – it went a lot deeper than that. I remember an interview they did way back with one of the lesser know siblings.

        He said MJ used to look just like their dad, who was abusive. And he hated seeing him every time he looked in the mirror, and that started him on getting the nose jobs… He was trying to become someone other than their father. That revelation always stuck with me as a kid because the self-loathing made sense and I felt so bad for him. Now I think it’s one of the worst legacies a parent can leave their kid

  2. Granger says:

    This is unreal. Seriously? There are no lighter-skinned black actors out there who could have done the job?

    • Ugh says:

      It’s funny he’s using the, ‘well, I look more like him than an actual black person would’ defense, because he legit looks NOTHING like MJ.

      • Sarah(too) says:

        Let’s be honest here. MJ looked nothing like MJ by this point.

      • Ugh says:

        My point is that he looks nothing like him even when MJ’s skin was lighter.

      • Bridget says:

        I totally get your point (and don’t disagree because this is just such a truly bad idea). Though personally, I think NO ONE looks like MJ, and that even movie makeup will be distracting, because MJ’s face was so altered by the end of his life that it was distracting to look at. Of course, one could argue that it is actually more true to appearance to use a black actor with makeup applied, as MJ’s skin tone was a result of his vitiglio and the makeup used to even out his appearance. Granted, no one who actually makes the decisions will remember that part.

        And is anyone else cringing at the thought of Fiennes trying to mimic MJ’s voice? This is going to be like a bad caricature.

    • Birdix says:

      Is this some kind of trolling performance art, where the reveal will be how nuts Hollywood and society are? Because anything short of that is outrageous.

    • Bettyrose says:

      Any actor will need make up and prosthetics to complete the look, so the look is sort of irrelevant. But the timing of this is just bad. Weren’t we just hearing about big changes to bring diversity to Hollywood? Soon British men will play all the parts. They’ve got Hunnam to do the tough guys regardless of ethnicity and lord knows fresh faced English boys can play women. Everyone else can go home.

    • Josefina says:

      That would still make the casting decision revolve around skin tone, though. Just sayin’.

      • Goodnight says:

        Only if they stopped at the first black person they found with light skin. It would not be just about skin colour if they searched until they found a black person who was perfect for the role and then applied the same makeup and prosthetics they’ll have to apply on Fiennes anyway.

        It’s about giving black actors the opportunity to play black characters, not really skin colour.

    • MattyLove says:

      Bruno Mars in makeup.

    • Pinky says:

      I like that he used the expression “Off the Wall,” arguably Jackson’s greatest album.

      But there has been plenty of explanation on yesterday’s thread as to why this is such a bad idea that I’m not going to rehash it now.

      Paging Chris Rock. Chris Rock. Come in, Rock, and set these fools straight.


      • Seya says:

        Why do you end all of your comments with ” -therealpinky ” ? Do you realize how odd that looks?

      • Naya says:

        I assume she has an impersonator who stirs up trouble here under the same name. Or perhaps she just has an attachment to her screen name and wants to distinguish herself from future Pinkys. Its not that serious.

      • Sixer says:

        There is indeed another (newer) Pinky. I’ve seen this Pinky ask the new one to change her name as it was already taken, but the newer one wasn’t having it.

      • truthSF says:

        Oh TheRealPinky, that was hilarious. Chris is on his way.

        P.S., I really hope Chris opens his monologue with “Happy Black History Month” to all the white folks sitting in the audience.

    • Dana m says:

      Ok Hollywood, here we go again.

      There are plenty of AFrican American MJ impersonators all over Vegas. Surely they could have found one that could act.

  3. teatimeiscoming says:

    No…. no, no, no…. Please stop talking.

    • Kitten says:

      It’s just an amusing joke to him. He comes across as incredibly tone-deaf. Or maybe he just feels that if he doesn’t acknowledge the elephant in the room, then it will just go away.

      • SOCHAN says:

        The Fiennes are tone-deaf. It isn’t just Joseph. Ralph is a mess, too. He’s obsessed with class and obsessed with telling people HE IS NOT POSH. (Pssst: yes, you are). He’s obsessed with telling interviewers how small his house is and how he has no attachment to possessions, and when he wanted to make the point of HOW VERY MIDDLE CLASS AND NOT POSH HE IS, he “hilariously” said he lives in a part of London with lots of Bangladeshi immigrants. Oh, okay, white man, that settles it I guess. You live among BROWN PEOPLE, so that scores some middle class points for you. (rolls eyes)

        Bottom line: the biggest hypocrites in the world are the ones who pretend to try and distance themselves from the very world they willingly and gleefully occupy. Joseph Fiennes making stupid, intellectually insulting excuses for taking a role that never should have been offered to him is more proof of that.

  4. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    We are all living in the same universe, right? We, generally speaking, read about the major issues of the day and … What I’m getting at is who the f@&$ thought this was a good idea? How did this happen? How did one person come up with the idea of having a white guy play MJ, then other people said ok, marvelous idea! I like the way you think! Let’s do it! I’m truly baffled.

    • Liv says:

      I get probably ripped to shreds for saying this, but I don’t get the fuss. MJ obviously looked white in his last years. If there’s a film about his early career, sure, there should absolutely be hired an african-american-actor to play him. But in his last years? He hadn’t had his nose anymore and he was basically white. What’s the alternative, a black actor wearing a white face? A light skinned black actor? Doesn’t even come close to the physical appearance of him in the last years of his life in my opinion. Joseph Fiennes might not be the perfect choice, but I think hiring a white actor/actress as MJ in his late career is understandable.

      I’m absolutely against whitewashing characters like for example Nina Simone played by Zoe Saldana. But I think MJ is a special case.

      PS I get your last argument that other people in the industry would use that as an excuse to whitewash more characters though.

      • perplexed says:

        I didn’t think he looked white though. He just looked like he wore a ton of make-up to make himself look not black (though now we know that’s because of his vitiligo). I think we could still tell that he used to look like a black guy. I don’t think JF really looks like a heavily made-up white-looking person who “used to be” black.

      • AlmondJoy says:

        During one of Michael’s interviews with Oprah, he said that he is proud to be a black American and that if a movie about him is made he wants a black actor chosen to portray him. Regardless of how he looked, (and we all know his perception of himself was screwed up) this is the way he FELT. And his wishes should be honored.

      • Ugh says:

        White passing black people are not “basically white.”

      • Liv says:

        AlmondJoy, I didn’t know that. If he asked for a black actor to play him then you’re right, his wishes should be honored.

      • Erinn says:

        @AlmondJoy – That alone should have made the decision for them. There are soooo many people who could have done the job – my god, there’s so much improvement with prosthetic and movie makeup effects that they could SURELY have found a black actor to do the role and look like a dead ringer for MJ by the time the makeup team had done their job.

        While sure – MJ was very light, and had had a lot of work done on his face – the fact that nobody involved in this movie took a minute to think “Oh hey guys – maybe we should hire a black actor to play an African American man” terrifies me. It’s not like we’re living in the 30’s and this isn’t a huge, very commonly talked about issue. There’s no excuse for this.

      • M.A.F. says:

        For f**k sakes. Wouldn’t have matter if MJ dyed his skin purple, he was born an African-American man, he died as an African-American man. What don’t you people get it? His plastic surgery and the reasons for it is not the topic being debating.

      • Josefina says:

        Even if he didn’t ask for that on Oprah, dismissing his race was extremely offensive. He grew up in African American culture and in fact became a major icon of it. He had several pathologies that led him to look like he did, but casting a white person only dismisses those pathologies turning him into a joke.

      • JenniferJustice says:

        I don’t care for actors or actresses of one color/race playing characters or people of other races. It’s not realistic to think an actor or actress of the right age, size, ability. etc. if going to be available in every race to play a role that happens to come up when it comes up, but I can’t help feeling it’s somehow “black-face” regardless of the race. I think of all the shows and movies I watched as a kid where the roles were suppose to be Native American Indians or Hispanic charcters and all they did was take a white person and dye their hair black, slap some feathers or Southwestern attire on them and had them speak in ridiculous stereotypes. We’ve come a long way, but I’m still senstive to it. I’m white BTW. It just doesn’t sit well.

        That said, it is a fact that MJ bleached his skin. Yes, he did have the melatonin condition but I read the autopsy after his death and it was very elightening. He had bleached his skin considerably – his entire body. He had black coloring tattooed on the top of his head because 1) he had folicle damage due to the accident during the soda commercial making when his hair caught fire, and 2) he was going bald anyway. He had lip liner, eye liner, eye brow, and lip color tattoed into his skin. He really did not have a nose. There was a hole there and he wore prosthetics. His teeth were going bad and he was extremely under weight. He wore wigs almost constantly toward the end and when he wore the masks, burkas, and handkercheifs over his face and people thought it was because he was trying to be incognito, actually it was because he didn’t want to wear the nose prosthetics all the time, so he just covered that part of his face.

        It’s difficult to reconcile his lack of respect for how he was originally made and I know he had body dysmorphia, but I do not for one moment beleive he was proud to be black. If anything, he seemed to do everything in his power to get away from it – or at least looking it. That still doesn’t make it right to have a white British dude playing a black American. I just can’t with it.

      • Jwoolman says:

        Jennifer- The skin disease that MJ had can progress to the point where there are more depigmented patches of skin than normal skin. At that point, people often decide it’s easier to bleach the remaining pigmented skin than to apply makeup to the depigmented skin. It might very well be easier to just do the whole body, such as in a bath, rather than try to guess which areas would never be displayed these days. People with the disease in a forum pointed out the signs of the disease in pictures of MJ as a young man. He was not trying to “look white”. He was dealing with a disorder that must have been devastating for an entertainer, compounded by the serious injuries he sustained in the accident that also greatly affected his appearance.

    • AlmondJoy says:

      GNAT, my thinking on the matter is the same as yours. I literally do no understand how anyone feels this is a good idea.

    • Sixer says:


      I posted this link yesterday but here it is again:

      Sky Arts is a highbrow channel here. The writer is well thought of. Sky generally have loud mouths on diversity. Yadda ad infinitum.

      Yet they still did this. Words fail me.

      • PoliteTeaSipper says:

        Well, we’re all talking about it aren’t we?

        I never would have heard about this project were it not for The Outrage.

    • SusanneToo says:

      I think it would be much better as a novel than a film. None of the actors really look like MJ, MB or ET and that will be really distracting. I’ll add it to the list of films I won’t watch.

      • msd says:

        Someone mentioned Rose McGowan as Michael Jackson and now I can’t unsee it. 😮

        I’ve said before that I think this is awful for many different reasons and Fiennes’ comments are tone deaf and clueless. It’s like the joke in Tropic Thunder, except for real! Any excuse to take a role from a black actor. The only way something like this could *possibly* work would be if it was experimental like Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There where Bob Dylan was played by different actors: black, white, male, female.

  5. Ugh says:

    Lord. Ralph Fiennes, come get your brother.

    Also, fun fact, according to Wiki they have another sibling named Magnus.

    • Naya says:

      I was just gonna ask if they are related. This person has managed the near impossible; turned me off of Ralph Fiennes. Down with the Fiennes.

      • EscapedConvent says:

        There’s no need to condemn the whole family! And Ralph didn’t sign on to play Michael Jackson.

      • KB says:

        Oh man, if I were held accountable for all of the dumb things my brother says…his solution for the crisis in the Middle East? “Just drop a bomb and be done with it.” In that specific case I know he was just trying to piss me off, but he isn’t much more evolved than that.

      • Naya says:

        I didnt say it was rational, its just the way I feel now. Away with them all, before someone gets the bright idea to cast Ralph to play Tito.

    • serena says:

      I was just thinking about a possible connection between them, didn’t realize it sooner, lol. I bet/hope he’s shaking his head and sending him a ‘for god’ sake shut up’ text.

    • Crocuta says:

      This family is specially qualified for portraying noseless characters.

  6. ell says:

    oh go away please. it’s much better when these ignorant actors just stfu.

  7. kibbles says:

    Well this will be interesting to see him in this role to say the least. I don’t usually support actors portraying someone of a different race, but Michael Jackson neither looked black or white because he had destroyed his face with surgery and lightened his skin. I think in this case, it is not too farfetched to have a person of any ethnicity or gender portray him as long as the acting is good.

    • Zip says:

      MJ didn’t even look human anymore. What difference does it make what the actors or his ethnicity is/was? Also, I doubt there are African-Americans who are as “light-skinned” – no pale! – as he was at the end unless they are Albinos. Would i be allowed to “white-face” them?

      • Marty says:

        Wow Zip, you went from clueless, to offensive, then scrapped the bottom of the barrel with total ignorance, in just a few sentences. Well done!

      • The Original Mia says:

        Because Michael was a black man. That’s why it matters. He wasn’t trying to be white. He was a black man with image issues, who thought the only way in his mind to appear normal to himself was to bleach his skin and destroy his original nose. He had a mental illness. What’s this idiot’s excuse for his blatant ignorance?

      • Kitten says:

        I truly don’t understand this line of thinking.

        Do you feel the same about light-skinned black people? Do you not consider them black because their skin is not dark?

        You cannot erase racial identity because racial identity doesn’t exist on a purely superficial level. It’s not merely an image, it’s an experience and its coded in one’s DNA. Michael Jackson WAS a BLACK MAN, end of.

      • FingerBinger says:

        Michael Jackson was a black with a skin disease. He did have vitiligo a disease that turns the skin white.

      • SMH says:

        Actually you are incorrect. I know and am related to several African Americans with pale complexions. We come in different shades of color. MJ is not a fictional character but a human. He was born black and should be portrayed by a person of color/black person.

      • TrixC says:

        This is totally missing the point. It’s not about what he looked like and who can most plausibly resemble him – clearly any actor is going to need a bunch of prosthetics to resemble MJ towards the end of his life. It’s about who he *was* – a black man. Having a white actor playing him is a form of black face, even if it’s not necessary for them to physically darken their skin.

  8. Astrid says:

    Good premise for a movie and bad casting. Sounds like a train wreck

    • Kitten says:

      I’m most concerned about a goofy white dude trying to do justice to MJ’s dance moves. I hope they keep that out of the movie.

      • Nancy says:

        Kitten how true. MJ was out there somewhere but when he stepped on stage and started dancing, he owned the world. Many have tried to at least keep up with him but none have succeeded. Ben, the two of us need look no more, we both found what we were looking for… of my favorite and saddest MJ’s songs….his best friend the rat. Oh My

  9. Keddie says:

    Who exactly are you saying should be cast to play this part? An African American who has the same skin issues, looks white and had a heap of plastic surgery to minimise his African American features? Or an African American who looks African American but therefore won’t look anything like MJ did at this time? Yes, MJ was African American, but he certainly didn’t look like it at this point!

    • Naya says:

      Looooong sigh! This dude doesnt look like MJ either. MJs whiteness neverlooked anything near healthy or normal. You would have to paint over this guys pink skin base to achieve MJs complexion. Then theres the prosthetics et cetera. If you are going to go through that effort why not hire a non-white actor to begin with? Even on the road, the most convincing MJ impersonators are people with some non-white heritage. So when the make up goes on it achieves the unnaturalness of that complexion. Frankly the black guys in White Girls in full makeup are closer in complexion than this white guy.

      • Keddie says:

        Agree, no one really looks like MJ, but I actually don’t think Joseph is so far off. I imagine it would take a lot more time to make a dark actor look like MJ. Full body make-up, totally new nose ect. Joseph would of course need make-up but I think significantly less. I don’t know why a film production would take on an additional cost like that when it won’t even result in someone who looks more like MJ or effect the acting.

    • Josefina says:

      Other than Kris Jenner, Liza Minelli and Sandra Bullock, everyone else would need massive ammounts of makeup to look like Michael Jackson.

      • kai says:

        It hurts me that you mention Sandra Bullock in the same sentence as these people and that I can’t even disagree. :-/

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      I love how in the enchanted Narnia you live in makeup apparently hasn’t been invented.

      • Keddie says:

        Wow well done on being rude to a person you don’t even know. This is the problem with the internet. There are many ways to express your opinion and behaving like that actually doesn’t bring anyone over to your side of the argument.

  10. Nev says:

    Bruno Mars wasn’t available?

  11. Cynthia says:

    There is a video of an Oprah interview where MJ clearly states that in a possible biopic he wouldn’t want to be played by a white man. Because he still indentified as black despite all the skin lightining and problems with vitiligo.

    • AlmondJoy says:

      Thank you. I posted this upthread before I scrolled and saw your comment. I’m sorry.

    • Leah says:

      Do you guys have a link to that video?

    • Kitten says:

      It makes me wonder how much forethought they put into this whole thing. It seems like a vanity project and really self-serving to the point where they didn’t even research/consider what MJ and/or his family might have wanted.

  12. NewWester says:

    This has to be some elaborate joke being played on the public. Until I see pics from the film set of Joseph Fiennes as MJ , I refuse to believe it.
    Remember when everyone thought Joaquin Phoenix was acting bizarre and it turned out to be a hoax?

    • Birdix says:

      Agreed. I just posted something similar before reading yours. Or maybe we’re both just too optimistic that something this atrocious couldn’t be serious.

    • Bridget says:

      At the time everyone knew Phoenix was playing a joke, no matter how much he played it straight. Though it still makes me laugh that after everyone spent months saying “this is a joke, right?” they released the documentary and said “And guess what guys, it was a joke and no one knew!”

      Total non-sequitur there.

  13. RhoSue says:

    At first I poo pooed the Oscar rumors regarding diversity. But now! An Asian Emma Stone, a White man playing a Latino drug lord, now blacks can’t even get the black man roles! Come get me Elizabeth!

  14. vauvert says:

    Too sad.

    The funny thing is, IF we didn’t have the constant, pervasive HW racism to deal with, this would be one of those stories where we would all think “how do you hire a guy with this nose when MJ by that time barely had any nose left”? I kinda get it that a black actor, even a light skinned one, would not look like MJ – but not because of skin colour, you can use makeup for that. He also didn’t look like a white man, or a regular human being either, again nothing to do with colour and everything to do with the insane amount of work he had done.

    In the meantime, I really don’t know that anyone needs this movie, and certainly not this casting.

  15. littlemissnaughty says:

    That is NOT THE POINT, FOOL! Why why WHY must they keep digging the holes they are already standing in? WHY? Oh my god, it’s going to be a caps-y day, I just know it.

    Also, could he be more condescending towards the three people portrayed in this movie? The way he describes it, oh how quaint. How cute. … Am I seeing things now? Am I overreacting? I can’t even tell anymore.

    • Esmom says:

      No, I don’t think you’re overreacting to his description, it struck me too as condescending and strange — a lighthearted romp in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 by three clueless bonehead celebs. I was like wtf?

    • poppy says:

      didn’t you know it is oh so funny?!?! the idea of 3 people that could not do a thing for themselves, could not go out in public, and had major difficulties in life (drug abuse, disordered thinking, etc) and dealing with reality would all join together to drive themselves across America -so funny! look at these freaks!
      3 people with problems so severe they rarely were seen in public. yeah, add 9-11 and so many many laughs.

      the original story and now this film- just not funny. add this miscasting and it sounds pretty freaking awful.
      demeaning, belittling, cruel, and not funny.

  16. Corinne says:

    Soo…he recognizes that Michael had pigmentation issues but he still thinks that a white man should play him? What’s this nonsense?

  17. Nancy says:

    Here we go again. Different day, same story. He is a terrible choice to play MJ, and I’m sure the PTB were aware of the controversy and attention casting of Fiennes would garner and they certainly were right. Enough was said yesterday so I’m just reiterating my opinion that casting a white English actor to portray Michael Jackson is questionable and somewhat disturbing.

  18. Cee says:

    Excuse my ignorance but couldn’t a mix raced actor been cast instead, darkening and lightening his colour as needed? Or would that be white face?

  19. Kiki says:

    I am a very likeable and loveable. I love everyone with different opinions and different personalities. But…. This is going to make me hate white people and I don’t hate people at all. Why are theae ignorant jacka**es in this world today are saying s**t?

  20. Aang says:

    Wasn’t there an episode of Community where Donald Gover played original MJ and the blond girl played him at the end of his life? She looked more like him at that point in his life than Donald Glover could have. My main objection to JF playing him is that his nose is too big and his entire face not delicate enough. Maybe a light skinned black woman would have been better.

    • taxi says:

      Yes, they should have used a small-boned, pale female with an extremely tiny nose.

    • Ally8 says:

      Came here to say this. Idiotic casting for obvious reasons. But visually, the nose thing is huge (literally). By the end, MJ hardly had any proboscis at all, whereas Joseph’s schnoz is very prominent. What are they going to do — have him wear a green sock on his nose all through filming and then CGI that thing out in every frame?

  21. Tig says:

    I am really starting to wonder who is advising him on his career? This debacle and that Risen movie?? Maybe he can’t get roles and this is the best of the lot. If true, that’s a pity bec he’s a good actor.

    • SOCHAN says:

      The fact is he’s not a very good actor – especially when you consider the competition. Joseph tried to happen years and years ago, but he couldn’t play the Hollywood game. He hated the parties and the lame interviews and the gossip. He’s on record admitting this. He married an unknown and they settled quietly down and made babies. That’s where his focus is. He has to take what jobs he can get in order to earn a living, but he’s not offered anything of quality because he’s just not terribly charismatic, interesting, or talented. I think getting a plum spot on American Horror Story was a major feat for him, but he wasn’t very good on it. I actually stopped watching during that season, for a combination of reasons involving how awful he was (to the point of distraction) and how very twisted the plot had become.

  22. EM says:

    He was always a mediocre actor & now this is giving him headlines he hasn’t had in more than a decade.

    • SOCHAN says:

      I just got done commenting about his low-level talent, but “mediocre actor” sums him up perfectly.

  23. Loo says:

    Black people can’t even get roles playing black people! You can’t make this stuff up. Lol

    • Liz says:

      It’s true. The stupidity of casting Joseph as Michael is mind-boggling. He was also dumb enough to drink the kool-aid for a paycheck.

      People with vitiligo don’t have color. They don’t have any undertones.

  24. Notthemafia says:

    Taxi for Mr Fiennes; I think it’s time for you to ‘go with god’

  25. Zoe says:

    European actors are really tone deaf on this issue aren’t they?

  26. Lara K says:

    Black us a race, not a colour . A lighter coloured black person is no less black (race) than a darker coloured one. Just like a tanned Joseph Fiennes will never be black.
    MJ identified as black, period. He should be played by someone from that race.

  27. cannibell says:

    All of this makes me think of a film called “Watermelon Man.” [(Wikipedia link (spoiler alert): ); IMBD page without spoilers:

    It’s a film by Mario Van Peebles (his only studio film) about a white man, Jeff, who wakes up one morning to discover that he’s become black. Columbia wanted Alan Arkin or Jack Lemmon to play Jeff. Van Peebles pushed for a black actor to play in whiteface – and won. He also turned down a deal to make more movies with the studio, and stayed independent. It would be interesting to hear his take on everything going on with black actors being shut out of the Academy Awards and these kinds of casting decisions….

  28. lem says:

    skin color aside (seriously why cast a white guy?!?), THEIR NOSES ARE NOTHING ALIKE. MJ barely even HAD nose and Fiennes has nose for 12 MJs. This is just all around ridiculous.

    • Nic919 says:

      Sad part is that his brother’s Voldermort nose would work for this role. Skin colour issues aside, it does not even work because of the nose issue.

  29. seesittellsit says:

    This is an odd piece of casting on a lot of fronts (not least of which is body type) – but it is true that Jackson spent most of his life trying to turn himself into a white man, and if his character in this work is an adult, that would have to be factored in. Still, it’s not as if he ever looked like anything but a black man trying to turn himself into a white person, so given the great number of light-skinned black actors who would have been less of a stretch . . .? And while Fiennes’ is an OK actor, he’s always lacked something in the way of charisma for me although he’s certainly good-looking . . . all of which is to say . . . I don’t get it.

    • Ugh says:

      He wasn’t “trying to turn himself into a white man”. He had vitiligo. Also, as someone else pointed out above, race and color are. not. the. same. thing.

      • seesittellsit says:

        There are quite a few people who don’t believe the vitiligo story, and it’s not as if he didn’t try to reshape his entire face: the nose, the chin . . . in many people’s view, he pretty obviously didn’t want to be who he was. I’m aware race and color aren’t the same – but the fact is, this casting is . . .weird.

      • Ugh says:

        Having plastic surgery doesn’t mean he wanted to be white. Your comment is really offensive and ignorant.

  30. Carmen says:

    I plan to boycott the hell out of this movie.

  31. M.A.F. says:

    What would solve this problem is the use of puppets a-la Team America World Police. Or just not make this movie at all since it is being debate if it really happened.

    • Lilacflowers says:

      According to IMDB, it is in post production. The puppets would have been brilliant

      • M.A.F. says:

        Holy moly. How was this able to get all the way through production and into post-production without it ever being known?

  32. Moxie Remon says:

    This role will finally put his career to an end.

  33. Ollie says:

    The Washington post has a new article online “100 times a white actor played someone who wasn’t white”

    It´s shocking how much of them i forget over the years

    Rob Schneider f.e. played almost every race now… asian, hispanic ones, near east, … And in the newest Sandler movie he is a native american? WTF

    Angelina Jolie, mother of a black daughter, went blackface for “Mighty Heart”. Looking at it now she looked very Rachel Dolezal

    And Scarlett Johansons will play a japanese character in Ghost in the Shell! Why? There is no need for it

    • SOCHAN says:

      People can’t get a movie financed in Hollywood without a well-known lead. They just can’t. That’s why Hollywood recycles the same actors and actresses over and over and over and over. Independent movies are where true talent and authenticity can be found. As for this weird MJ movie …. it’s a Brit project, that’s all I can say.

    • Jwoolman says:

      In the anime, a lot of characters in Ghost in the Shell do not look ethnically Japanese, often they look quite European or mixed at most. Secondary characters are more likely to look Japanese. It’s set in a future where that isn’t considered odd, although anime plays loose with such things routinely. The non-Japanese characters look exotic to the local audiences and make them more familiar to some of the international audience in Europe, Canada, and the USA in particular. They like to include people who look African occasionally for similar reasons.

      Is she actually playing one of the few ethnically Japanese ones in Ghost in the Shell? You can’t always tell from the names in the English version of anime. Sometimes they keep the Japanese names, sometimes they anglicize them.

  34. MexicanMonkey says:

    I’m sure the people at SkyArt are ecstatic about all the free publicity a TV movie no body would have cared about has gotten over that casting choice.

  35. Anna S. says:

    Joseph Fiennes looks so much like Adam Levine these days, no? I did a double take on that last photo!

  36. Leah says:

    No words!

  37. Janie-C says:

    The thing people don’t seem to understand us that MJ was born a black man, lived as a black man and a died a black man. At no point did he stop being black or stop being descended from black people. He had a skin disorder, and possibly dysmorphia later in his life, but that doesn’t change the fact he was black.

    Getting a white actor to play a black man is so tone deaf, especially after what’s gone on during these past few weeks.

    Black and biracial people are not white just because they pass. It’s awful to have people deny your heritage and think you should be happy to be considered white. Nope, I’m still black and I’ll always be black, no matter how “white” you think I am.

    It’s a whole lot of divide and conquer going on, and it pisses me off.

    • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

      White people have been deciding who gets the ‘gift’ of whiteness for centuries, good luck getting them to stop.

  38. Penny says:

    I hope this movie bombs, it boggles my mind how people will still deny that white privilege exists

    • Crocuta says:

      It’s a made for TV movie. Which means it can’t really be boycotted nor it can bomb the way theatre films can.

      It also means it’s much cheaper, which might explain why they don’t want to invest in make-up and special effects for one of the leads. I have a feeling they’ll just use Fiennes in a wig, they won’t make him a new nose nor will they change his skin tone. They’ll have him mimic Michael Jackson’s speech and mannerisms and dress him in something michaeljacksony, even if in his private life he wore normal clothes. And BAM – Jackson! I hope I’m wrong, tho.

      • Penny says:

        It can still bomb with low ratings since it is made for tv ,and I hope it does

      • Crocuta says:

        True, but since it’s a one time deal – nobody is expecting a sequel, it’s cheap and TVs have to buy it before they find out that nobody wants to watch it … It would be just one of those things that gets forgotten quickly, not one of those that make people stop and think that it was a really bad idea to cast a white man to play a POC.

  39. Rainbow says:

    Vitiligo is not an excuse for his changing appearance. He had it but also had numerous plastic surgeries to alter himself completely ; thinner nose and lips, square chin, wider eyes,higher cheekbones and who knows what else. He even had a chin dimple done.
    According to dermatologists vitiligo among other factors can also be caused by the harsh chemicals used in bleaching creams, so in Jackson’s case we don’t know what came first, skin bleaching or vitiligo. It’s not the vitiligo that resulted in this out of this world look but his body dysmorfic disorder caused by the psychological abuse and rejection by his father.
    At this time of his life he had serious psychological issues. In this interview to Opra that people say that he said he was self identifying as a black person, he also denied his changing appearance and said he didn’t know what skin bleaching is, so you get the point. His noise was about to fall and he insisted that he had only 2 operations just to breath better. His brain was not functioning , he was a zombie due to drugs and painkillers and no one knows what was inside his head.
    In my opinion this movie is worthless, Jackson was a shadow of his former self in the ’00s. It would by way better to make a movie about his life,carrer and success years, and of course have an African American actor to portay him.

    • Colette says:

      … And he identified as a Black man.In his last interview with Ebony magazine he talked about how proud he was of his African ancestry.

      • Anne says:

        yeah, he gave a politically correct, IMO. his actions contradicted his words. maybe he had contradictory feelings within himself – who knows?

        the really disturbing thing to me was when he bleached Prince’s dark hair blond when he was little. In some of the pictures, you can see a little baby boy with dark roots – ?? to me, that’s a clear attempt to identify with whiteness. it put some of his other choices in perspective for me.

    • SOCHAN says:

      @ Rainbow

      It’s always been my belief that he was trying to get his skin lightened by just one or two tones, and it went very wrong. As an aside, he was awfully handsome as a young man. Fine bone structure and gorgeous smile. I can’t fault him for being uncomfortable with his nose. Lots of people have senstitvies about their noses. But he should have stopped with one rhinoplasty and left the rest of his handsome face alone.

      • Anne says:

        has beyonce lightened her skin? in some pictures she looks very light – it may be photoshop.

  40. MJJJP says:

    The casting Joseph Feinnes to play Michael Jackson is a sad mistake as many have opined but its the whole premise of the this parody / comedy / drama .. or whatever SkyArts has tried to promote it, that is truly problematic. It is based on a purely factless, fictional tale told by NYPost, regurgitated by Vanity Fair. By the by, both publications have long been trolls of Michael Jackson. So when Feinnes says the script is a delight and maintains “it’s not malicious” it’s hard to take him serious. Michael Jackson was in New York that fateful day America was attacked in one of it’s most iconic ciites. We still mourn the many lives lost and it’s not a day that we could find humor. The facts are: Michael Jackson had a nanny and his two children with him and after he secured car travel to a friend in New Jersey, he helped fans that were left stranded and then drove there and stayed for weeks. This detail has been confirmed by the Cascio family, where he and his family stayed. Yet We are supposed to believe Michael left his children to go off on a “road trip” with Brando and Taylor? This story has been debunked years ago so it begs the question – Why would a British TV series be concocted from pure Fiction – and lampoon three of the biggest icon of American culture. Three humanitarians who have served the world in a greater capacity than anyone producing or involved in this tactless and malicious project .

  41. holly hobby says:

    I’m sorry but this isn’t worth the digital film it is taped on. The plot sounds very thin and I’m insulted with the casting.

    • Jwoolman says:

      Well, somebody thought Lindsay Lohan would make a convincing Elizabeth Taylor in another TV movie. Which was quite a disaster for many reasons.

  42. Gina says:

    I watched MJ interview with Oprah where he stated that he was proud to be a black person and he would like a black actor to play him AS A CHILD. (he also said ” you wouldn’t want to be portrayed as a child by oriental person, right?”) “oriental”, michael, really?
    Of course noone would hire a white actor to play MJ in his younger years. But then he turned himself into white person for no reason.he’s proud to be black? Why did he turn himself into a white person? skin condition? He claimed to have vitiligo and as a dermatologist I can say that he had no signs of it and this disease doesn’t require total skin bleaching and an extreme nose job (eyeroll)

    • Hannah says:

      Just stop, he didn’t turn himself into a white person. You can’t turn yourself into a race you are not.

      • Gina says:

        @Hannah, I never said he changed the race. This is impossible. But he turned himself white. Literally. Not only the skin – nosejob as well. And all of his kids magically were born white. I personally don’t care about his race (although I’m a HUGE MJ fan since childhood). But the color of his skin is what he’s done to himself. by choice. With his own hands. And at the end of his life he looked like mix of alien and white woman. but not a black man in any way

    • SMH says:

      He had a skin disease. Please accept it and stop making excuses. You were not his dermatologist so you can’t diagnose him, smh. Poor me, he is dead but the world is still making a mockery of his life.

      • Gina says:

        ok, he did. Why his children are white, though? And what about the “lil kim style” nose job?

      • SOCHAN says:

        @ Gina

        Those kids are not biologically his. I will never understand why he needed to lie about them being his, and carry this lie to his grave. But they aren’t his biologically. And Debbie Rowe can never tell because she was paid millions of dollars to keep her mouth shut.

      • Anne says:

        Why did he dye his son’s dark hair BLONDE when he small? Jackson – god bless him – had some issues. The story someone mentioned earlier about his not wanting to see his abusive father when he looked in the mirror breaks my heart. I had never thought about how that might have influenced the way he saw himself before. My guess is that – whatever he was going through – it was complicated.

  43. Nev says:

    The whole idea is just plainly insulting. To not see that is scary. He had a skin disease. He wasn’t white!!!!!!!

    How about the actor from How To Get Away With Murder? He’s black and kinda looks like he would be a good candidate.

    • Gina says:

      What skin disease? the one that makes your children white and requires a nose job to look more caucasian? He claimed to have vitiligo and as a dermatologist I can say that he had no signs of it and this disease (unlike beautiful model Chantelle Brown-Young, google her. and it’s not a “disease” its unpainful condition that DOESNT require treatment)

      • Gina says:

        @Nev + do you know other examples in history where a POC had to bleach his skin “to treat skin condition”? This procedure is extremely unhealthy and can compromise your immune system. No one would do that for medical reasons, sorry

      • SMH says:

        Getting a nose job does not equate to wanting to be white. I guess white people who get a nose job hate being Additionally there are people of color who have small/slim noses.

      • SMH says:

        The children’s mothers are white so it’s not strange. Regarding your comment to Nev about bleaching…there are people who bleach bc of hyper pigmentation issues. That doesn’t mean the want to be white.

      • Colette says:

        Are you kidding ? There are dozens of pictures of Michael’s hands showing signs of vitiligo some way from the 1980’s.His son Prince also has vitiligo .His autopsy confirmed he had vitiligo.Did he have to bleach his skin ? Of course not.He could have continued to wear body makeup like he did in the eighties.Many black people who have extensive vitiligo (covering more than 50 percent) have used bleaching products.My niece uses menobenzone because she didn’t feel comfortable with her appearance and is was too time consuming using makeup to camouflage the discoloration.My niece was dark skinned like Lupita.She started bleaching her skin when the vitiligo had spread to about 75 percent of her body.

      • Bridget says:

        There’s a lot of speculation that MJ’S drastically altered appearance didn’t have to do with his wanting to be “white” so much as a deep psychological trauma caused by his father’s abuse, to the point of literally trying to re-make himself.

        And MJ’s children are white because their mother and their sperm donors are white. We have no idea why he chose those particular donor (s), it could be race, but he could have also chosen people whom he trusted (after all, Debbie Rowe, who was likely a surrogate more than a romantic partner, was someone he knew already through his dermatologist’s office) and we certainly know that MJ had a lot of issues with trust and kept his inner circle tight.

      • Nev says:

        I understand that he had virtiligo. Even when he had to submit photos from doctors they said it was on his penis during that abuse investigation. I know he adds makeup and probably bleaching too. BUT he was still born a black person. To cast a white man to play him is not right. At least pick a light skinned black actor and add makeup. That’s my point.

      • Jwoolman says:

        It certainly can cause pain, although not always. Some people experience considerable pain with it.

    • Anne says:

      Given his appearance later in life, I understand having a white actor. I just hope they deal with his story (& struggles) in an insightful, compassionate way.

      By the way, can Fiennes DANCE? He’ll need some moves for this one. . .

  44. Ruyana says:

    Michael wasn’t just his skin color. He was a deeply troubled person (thanks to his monster father, Joe). With makeup Fiennes might look a bit like Michael, but no way could he move like him. Michael truly was super-talented. His music, singing and dancing were outstanding. But after his death I saw some photos of his art work and he was also massively gifted as a painter and his drawings were beautiful. He may have had wacky ideas about his children – masks in public, etc. But it was clear he loved them deeply and his love was returned. I don’t know if he actually was a child molester, but given the sexual things he was subjected to as a little boy it is certainly possible. I really hate his monster of a father and his weak mother who stood by, knowing what was happening, and let it go on. And, lastly, as a little old white woman, I feel it is deeply insulting to Michael and to every black person, to cast a white man to play him. Hollywood never learns.

    • Anne says:

      uh, he was subjected to “sexual things” as a little boy? I never heard that. I knew his father was thought to be physically/emotionally abusive . . .never heard more than that, though. Anyone?

  45. and so it starts….. i promise they are gonna have matt damon play malcolm x…. and then it will be A RIOT… trust

    Michael Caine as Thurgood Marshall (its coming)…. white society and entertainment can yal STOP in 2016

    i mean… really…. no one could have found a light skin fair black man or another POC to play michael…… jeezzzzz

    But i cant really expect much when they have the AUDACITY to film and produce and put in theaters the movie EXODUS…

  46. Maggie says:

    I posted this yesterday. JF has already played Michael Jackson. This isn’t the first time. Perhaps this is why he was chosen by the producer. People are commenting Sandra Bullock could play MJ or Liza Minelli. They aren’t black. I understand MJ was a black man and if you’re doing a movie based on his life a black man should be cast as MJ. I think this movie is based more on the characters and their interaction with one another so he chose actors that could pull that off. I’m seeing it more of an artistic endeavour versus a realistic one. There’s racism in every culture and every race has suffered at the hands of another. You’re not so special and either am I. If a person isn’t allowed to say what they think or feel without being insulted there’s no dialogue which is important for change.

  47. hmmm says:

    Geez, what am I missing here? No one criticised Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan. That was poetic licence and I see this choice as poetic licence as well given the description.

    • msd says:

      This isn’t I’m Not There, they’re not experimenting with someone’s public persona by casting him as male, female, black, and white incarnations as Haynes did with Dylan. They don’t see it as a form of poetic license at all, Fiennes’ stupid comments make that clear.

    • Anne says:

      I’m missing it too. it strikes me as a creative choice. I think, in the midst of #Oscarsowhite, though, people see a pattern of exclusion and they don’t like it.

  48. Twinkle says:

    What are they planning to do about Joseph’s nose?

    • Colette says:

      The film is a fictional trip that took place in 2001.It will not cover his childhood.It will not cover his life prior to 2001.

  49. Lex says:

    He looks like the love child of his own father and Adam Levine.

  50. vespernite says:

    So okay first let me just say that I have had a mad crush on Joseph since forever. Now on to the issue of him portraying MJ, it is a ludicrous notion, but that being said I’m interested to see how it turns out. I think depicting MJ at this stage of his life is tricky. He was seriously deformed by then and skin condition or not he did not look human, but a caricature of himself. So basically any actor portraying him would need a vast amount of make-up and prosthetic. So to me you could go either way with the casting. Although I do question whether Joseph can pull off that voice.

  51. Boston Green Eyes says:

    Who are they going to have play Janet? JLaw???

  52. Drs. Fixxie says:

    WHY not Hollywood, WHY not?!!!

  53. Christine says:

    STAHP. Drop out before it’s too late, PLEASE.

  54. Carmen says:

    The colossal gall of this guy, or any white guy, thinking he can play Michael Jackson…. I don’t know whether to laugh out loud or break something.

  55. Yvettew says:

    Michael Jackson’s legacy is his music, not his original or ending skin color. The fact that the actor thinks he’s good to go based on skin tone tells me that he has greatly missed the mark and needs to go somewhere with his flat non-singing and dancing behind and sit DOWN!

  56. TOPgirl says:

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with him playing MJ. Remember all those comments everyone made about it being OKAY for a black man to play a white traditional character like James Bond.’s okay for a white man to play a black man. I see nothing wrong with that. “Let’s stop talking about race”…quote from Morgan Freeman.

    • Leah says:

      I need a facepalm emoji

    • icerose says:

      go Morgan Freeman

    • Crocuta says:

      Well to be fair, James Bond is a fictional character. So unless the books make it clear that he’s white and that making him black would drastically change the way he operates, it is not a comparable situation.

      And this is coming from me, one of the few people here who don’t mind Fiennes as Jackson because Michael had race issues (yes, I know some people claim that his altered appearance had nothing to do with that, but quite frankly I don’t buy it, so sure, be mad at me again).

  57. s. says:

    Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, and MJ on a car trip.. wow.

  58. AnotherDirtyMartini says:

    Are we being Punk’d? Not by Celebitchy..I’ve seen this news all over the place. It has to be a terrible joke…with more than terrible timing.

  59. Laura says:

    I love Michael Jackson….always have, always will. I obviously didn’t know him as a person but as an entertainer he was just the best! I loved his innocence, his dedication to helping others, his promotion of peace, and his fragility. His fragility made him human in my eyes. We all have things we hate about ourselves and our lives, and he was no different. As for this farce of a movie, well, I don’t care who is playing Michael because the story is what bothers me. Who cares about Michael renting a car with two other famous people? I would much rather have a movie made about Michael’s life – one that really goes into how he came up with his ideas for songs and music videos, what he liked to do in his spare time, his relationships with his family and ex-wives, etc. And I would request that the actor (he was a man therefore the individual playing him should be male) be African-American as that is what he was, no matter what color his skin was when he died. There are many wonderful Michael Jackson impersonators that could fill the role and fill it well. I hope that a real, well thought out and loving movie about Michael is made because these types of movies only serve to fuel the media’s obsession with labelling him a weirdo, or a joke. He deserves better than that.

  60. Liesl says:

    I agree this casting is all sorts of crazy, but I don’t get the posters saying it’s disrespectful to Michael Jackson’s legacy. Let’s not forget that Michael Jackson was, at best, someone who behaved inappropriately with children, and at worst, a child molester.

    If they cast a black sumo wrestler to play Woody Allen in a biopic, I might scratch my head, but I won’t rant about it being an injustice to Woody.