Joseph Fiennes "Shocked" to Be Cast as Michael Jackson

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The 'Shakespeare in Love' actor downplays the controversy of casting a white Englishman to play the King of Pop, suggesting the upcoming comedy 'Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon' was "just a satire."

Joseph Fiennes admits that he was "shocked" to be cast as Michael Jackson in the upcoming comedy short Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon for British pay-TV network Sky. 

The casting of a white Englishman to play Jackson stirred up great controversy on social media, particularly as the news came at a time when Hollywood is gripped by its own ongoing debate about diversity, or lack thereof, crystallized perfectly by the #OscarsSoWhite issue. 

Speaking on Thursday to AFP, Fiennes said that he was "shocked that they would come to me for the casting," adding that people should "ask [the producers] as to why they would want to cast me.”

The Flash Forward actor, the younger brother of fellow actor Ralph Fiennes, sought to play down the significance of the road-trip movie Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon, in that it is a surreal imagining of Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando taking a car ride together in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. “I felt this was a wonderful challenge, I read the script and it’s very funny," said Fiennes. 

He added: “It’s a satire, it’s just a 20-minute satire. It’s a sketch about a story that could have been a legend or could have been true. So we’ll see what the audience make of it.”

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