Actor Joseph Fiennes is defending himself after it ermeged he will play Michael Jackson in an upcoming film called Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon.
The news of Fiennes, a white actor, playing the African American star comes amid uproar over the lack of diversity in the film world. Some actors are boycotting the Oscars after the Academy failed to nominate a single black actor or actress for the second year in a row.
Fiennes told Entertainment Tonight that the Michael Jackson project is "fun" and "light hearted."
He added that 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."
Twitter erupted after the news broke about the Michael Jackson film.
I can't even comment on this Michael Jackson/Joseph Fiennes thing. It's so ridiculous that it feels like we're all being punk'd— Black Girl Nerds (@BlackGirlNerds) January 27, 2016
Joseph Fiennes can play Michael Jackson. (A real person). But Idris can't play James Bond (a fake spy for a fake agency)? Cool, cool, cool.— Prentice Penny (@The_A_Prentice) January 27, 2016
Remember in 1995 when Joseph Fiennes floated a statue of himself down the Thames? Oh right, sorry. It's just that they look so alike— Michael Hogan (@michaelhogan) January 27, 2016
Joseph Fiennes is playing Michael Jackson. Who's playing Diana Ross? Benedict Cumberbun?— Petey RobLowe (@jteeDC) January 27, 2016
So Joseph Fiennes (A WHITE DUDE!) is gunna play Michael Jackson... I say Denzel Washington plays Elvis in the next movie just to be fair.😒😡— Nico Madden (@_nicomadden) January 27, 2016
Fiennes will star as The King of Pop in the movie for Sky Arts in the UK. It focuses on how Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando drove from New York City to Ohio in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks to get out of the city.
Actress Stockard Channing will play Taylor while Brian Cox will be Brando.
The story of the trio’s adventure has been a rumor for years. Jackson had played Madison Square Garden the day before the attack and, following the collapse of the Twin Towers, the group reportedly rented a car and drove to Ohio by themselves.
One of Taylor’s assistants has disputed the rumor for years, saying her boss was in New York after the attacks.
Sky Arts said in a statement: “Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon is a Sky Arts comedy which takes a light hearted look at a reportedly true event; Joseph Fiennes is cast as Michael Jackson. It is part of a series of comedies about unlikely stories from arts and cultural history.
"Sky Arts puts the integrity of the creative vision at the heart of all its original commissions and we believe in giving producers the creative freedom to cast roles as they wish, within the diversity framework which we have set.”