British actor Joseph Fiennes has been cast as Michael Jackson in an upcoming movie called Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon, a comedic retelling of the gonzo, often-disputed 2011 Vanity Fair article about the King of Pop, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marlon Brando road-tripping from New York to L.A. on September 11, 2001.
A bizarre topic for sure, but the fact that Fiennes—a very white actor—was tapped to play an African-American character has people questioning—yet again—why diversity is so hard to come by in Hollywood.
The casting comes after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has unanimously voted to diversify its membership, doubling the number of women and diverse members by 2020. A long overdue move, but one that was obviously spurred by the negative publicity surrounding the fact that, for the second year in a row, every actor nominated for an Oscar is white.
For his part, Fiennes acknowledged Jackson would be “a challenge.” “I got the script the other day,” Fiennes explained to WENN. “It’s a challenge. It’s a comedy. It doesn’t poke mean fun but it’s a story, possibly urban legend, whereby Michael, Marlon Brando, and Liz Taylor were all together the day before 9/11 doing a concert. Airspace was shut down and they couldn’t get out, and Michael had the bright idea to go to hire a car and drive.”
The movie—set to air on Britain’s Sky Arts—also cast Stockard Channing as Taylor and Brian Cox as Brando.