Not having it. Paris Jackson objected to Joseph Fiennes’ portrayal of her late father, pop superstar Michael Jackson, in a trailer for Urban Myths released on Wednesday, January 11. Watch the trailer above!
In the 50-second trailer, Fiennes, a white, British actor, dons what looks like face paint and a prosthetic nose to transform into the late “Thriller” hitmaker in the final decade of his life; Michael’s daughter Paris swiftly took to Twitter to take the team behind the film to task.
“I’m so incredibly offended by it, as i’m sure plenty of people are as well, and it honestly makes me want to vomit,” she wrote in the first in a series of tweets on Wednesday, January 11. “It angers me to see how obviously intentional it was for them to be this insulting, not just towards my father, but my godmother liz as well.”
Urban Myths is a made-for-TV project featuring several shorts that tell the tales of some of Hollywood’s best-known urban legends. The short featuring Michael and his close friend Elizabeth Taylor (played by Emmy and Tony-winning actress Stockard Channing) refers to the since-debunked urban legend that the longtime friends and Marlon Brando (Brian Cox) hopped into a car for a cross-country road trip out of New York City after 9/11.
“Where is the respect? They worked through blood sweat and tears for ages to create such profound and remarkable legacies,” 18-year-old Paris continued. “Shameful portrayal. … He made a point of it plenty of times to express his pride in his roots. He would never have wanted this,” she said in a clear nod to the director’s decision to cast a white actor to play the King of Pop.
Michael’s nephew Taj “TJ” Jackson similarly voiced his disgust at the casting of the role, tweeting, “Unfortunately this is what my family has to deal with. No words could express the blatant disrespect.”
Back in the beginning of 2016, when casting for Urban Myths was announced, ardent Michael Jackson fans petitioned for others to boycott the film. “It’s easy to see why the story would make a compelling film — but it’s harder to understand why the actor best known for his role in Shakespeare in Love was the first choice to play one of the world’s most iconic black musicians,” the petition reads.
Fiennes, for his part, has expressed his own discomfort with being cast in the role, telling The Hollywood Reporter last February that he could understand why people were “up in arms.”
“The decision with the casting and the producers — I wrangled with it, I was confused and shocked at what might come my way,” the 46-year-old actor said at the time, “and I knew the sensitivity, especially to Michael’s fans and to Michael’s family. It doesn’t negate who he was.”
Urban Myths also features actors portraying such iconic and controversial characters as Bob Dylan (Eddie Marsan), Cary Grant (Ben Chaplin), Adolf Hitler (Iwan Rheon) and Hitler’s friend (Rupert Grint).
Urban Myths is set to debut on Thursday, January 19, on Sky Arts.
|Paris Jackson and Michael Jackson. LILLY LAWRENCE/AFP/Getty Images; Ron Wolfson/WireImage|
Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson is not going over well
A year ago there was an uproar when it was announced that a white actor, Joseph Fiennes, would be portraying Michael Jackson in a British TV production.
The trailer for the project -- released Wednesday -- has done little to assuage that furor.
"Urban Myths" tells a series of stories, including a fabled one in which Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor (played by Stockard Channing) and Marlon Brando (played by Brian Cox) supposedly took a cross-country road trip after 9/11.
The affront of Michael Jackson being played by a white guy
The trailer has Twitter beside itself.
In a 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Jackson rejected the idea of having a white actor portray him onscreen. Winfrey had asked him about reports that he wanted Pepsi to cast a white actor to play him as a child in a commercial.
"That is so stupid," Jackson said. "That's the most ridiculous, horrifying story I've ever heard. It's crazy."
Fiennes talked to The Hollywood Reporter about the role last year.
The film is not a biopic, he exclaimed, and said "It's Michael in his last days when, I have to say, he did look quite frankly rather differently than when we grew up with him in the '80s or earlier."
"The decision with the casting and the producers -- I wrangled with it, I was confused and shocked at what might come my way, and I knew the sensitivity, especially to Michael's fans and to Michael's family," Fiennes said. "It doesn't negate who he was."