British actor Fiennes, who is white, best known for playing the Bard in the film Shakespeare in Love and seen on TV's American Horror Story, is slated to portray the iconic African-American pop star in a short, 30-minute TV film.
Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon was commissioned by the U.K.'s Sky Arts, which confirmed the casting Wednesday and said the project was in post-production, due to air this year.
The channel said it was "part of a series of comedies about unlikely stories from arts and cultural history."
'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.' - Joseph Fiennes
"I got the script the other day … it's a challenge," Fiennes told WENN (World Entertainment News Network) in an online interview published late Monday.
According to Fiennes, American actress Stockard Channing is set to portray screen siren Taylor, while Scottish actor Brian Cox will appear as movie legend 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."
'Escape from New York'
According to Mendelson, Jackson had invited the two Hollywood stars (two of his closest friends) to join him at concerts in New York in September 2001. The trio, finding themselves grounded and unable fly back to California after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, allegedly chose to rent a car and attempt to drive home.
In the interview, Mendelson claims they made it as far as Ohio.
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Jackson said he suffered from the condition vitiligo, which caused him to have patchy loss of skin pigmentation and which he blamed for his lightened complexion as he aged.
In a statement, Sky said it "puts the integrity of the creative vision at the heart of all its original commissions.
"We believe in giving producers the creative freedom to cast roles as they wish, within the diversity framework which we have set."
News of the project rippled through social media, with people alternately angry, confused and skeptical.
The world's reaction to Joseph Fiennes playing Michael Jackson pic.twitter.com/EGLKYSETIO— @MissSchliez
WTF? Joseph Fiennes is playing Michael Jackson? This is NOT the colorblind casting we meant, entertainment industry https://t.co/1EPpbC8jcO— @dorothysnarker
The fact that the Joseph Fiennes & Charlie Hunnam whitewashing announcements are made during #OscarsSoWhite campaign says a whole lot.— @Lexialex
I'm TOTALLY on board with Joseph Fiennes playing Michael Jackson IF AND ONLY IF Angela Bassett is cast as Elizabeth Taylor— @TheOrlandoJones
Charlie Hunnam can play Mexican-American Edgar Valdez & Joseph Fiennes can play Michael Jackosn, but Idris Elba can't play Bond?— @HashtagLaToya
There is no way this is real. https://t.co/nWRv8c7QGC— @normwilner