Hopefully you haven’t tired from scratching out your eyes at the recent announcement that Joseph Fiennes, a man who in no way resembles Michael Jackson, would play the King of Pop in a forthcoming British TV movie. Fiennes, who faced immediate backlash over the decision for obvious reasons, has finally stepped up to offer his own thoughts on the role. According to Fiennes, he was also pretty taken aback by the casting decision, though not in the way you might assume.
“[Jackson] was probably closer to my color than his original color,” Fiennes tellsEntertainment Tonight, referencing Jackson’s battle with vitiligo while downplaying the larger problem inherent in Jackson being portrayed by a white actor. The film, described by Fiennes as a “light comedy look” that’s “not in any way malicious,” will also star Brian Cox as Marlon Brando and Stockard Channing as Elizabeth Taylor.
In light of the ongoing controversy surrounding Fiennes’ casting, a 1993 clip of Jackson speaking candidly with Oprah Winfrey has resurfaced via The Wrap. “I’m proud to be a black American,” Jackson says at around the 23-minute mark in the video below when asked about a then-popular rumor about a white actor portraying him. “I am proud of my race. I am proud of who I am.” Adding that such a possibility was “horrifying” and “crazy,” Jackson asked his fans to stop believing the rumors:
The Jackson family, at time of publication, has not commented on Fiennes’ casting.