If you thought Woody Allen’s casting of Miley Cyrus in his Amazon series was unexpected, wait till you get a load of this. Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon, a half-hour comedy from the U.K.’s Sky TV network about a road trip Marlon Brando, Michael Jackson, and Elizabeth Taylor allegedly made after 9/11, has found its Michael: Joseph Fiennes, as in Shakespeare in Love Joseph Fiennes.
A Sky spokesperson released a statement to Variety saying in part, “Sky Arts gives producers the creative freedom to cast roles as they wish, within the diversity framework which we have set.” But the casting has already sparked a strong reaction on social media, while The Daily Beast writer Stereo Williams denounced the action in an editorial.
I’m TOTALLY on board with Joseph Fiennes playing Michael Jackson IF AND ONLY IF Angela Bassett is cast as Elizabeth Taylor
— Orlando Jones (@TheOrlandoJones) January 27, 2016
If Joseph Fiennes is going to play Michael Jackson, it’s only fair that Gwyneth Paltrow should play Macaulay Culkin
— Richard Lawson (@rilaws) January 27, 2016
Congratulations to noted African-American actor Joseph Fiennes on being cast as Michael Jackson… — Scott Mendelson (@ScottMendelson) January 27, 2016
Finnes addressed the issue surrounding his casting with Entertainment Tonight, saying, “I’m a white, middle-class guy from London…I’m as shocked as you may be. He continued, “[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.”
Elsewhere, Fiennes described the project to W.E.N.N.:
I got the script the other day. 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. So the three of them got in a car and drove 500 miles to Los Angeles. It took them a while because they had to stop at a lot of Burger Kings for Marlon; but they got out! It’s a lovely thing about Michael’s relationship with Liz Taylor and Marlon Brando. It’s a fun, light-hearted tongue in cheek road trip of what celebrity of that kind is like. But also it’s rather beautiful and poignant about their relationships as well.
Check out this article from Vanity Fair for more information on this road trip.
Neil Forsyth wrote Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon, which is directed by Ben Palmer (The Inbetweeners Movie), and will air later this year on Sky.