January 28, 2016

"I'm a white, middle-class guy from London - I'm as shocked [at getting cast to play Michael Jackson] as you might be."

Said Joseph Fiennes.
"It's a light comedy look. It's not in any way malicious. It's actually endearing. And the more I actually looked at Michael - it's great, as an actor, to have so much to copy and look at in interviews - the more I kind of fell in love with him....

"Michael and two of his best buddies, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando, happened to be in New York the night before 9/11. It was a concert Michael was giving, and Brando was introducing him on stage. I don't know if this is an urban legend or if it's true, but the three of them couldn't get out because air space was shut down, so the three of them jumped in a car and went on a road trip."
Here's the 2011 Vanity Fair article by Sam Kashner, about the real-life road trip and I'm going to get off the interstate that is the topic of the outrage of casting a white actor to play a black person when there aren't enough roles for black actors (and whether any black actors look as much like Michael Jackson as Joseph Fiennes does, if he does) and I'm taking the off-ramp that is the actual story of the road trip:

Michael had gotten a call from friends in Saudi Arabia who warned that America was under attack....

A former employee of Michael Jackson’s says that Michael, like General Washington, led his entourage to a temporary safe haven in New Jersey, before the three superstars took to the open road. “They actually got as far as Ohio—all three of them, in a car they drove themselves!” he recalls. Brando allegedly annoyed his traveling companions by insisting on stopping at nearly every KFC and Burger King they passed along the highway. One can only imagine the shock their appearance caused at gas stations and rest stops across America.
Here's how Brando looked at that Michael Jackson concert:




Brando is played by Brian Cox in the film:



That makes sense. Liz? Liz, who looked like this in 2001...



... is played by Stockard Channing:

35 comments:

Big Mike said...

A black actor would have to wear white makeup and have his nose remodeled. Better this way.

Shawn Levasseur said...

They should hire Rachel Dolezal as a consultant for the film, to give them cover.

Ann Althouse said...

"A black actor would have to wear white makeup and have his nose remodeled. Better this way."

Fiennes has to lighten his skin tone as well, and Fiennes's nose is also wrong. It's longer and it's pendulous (not upturned and sculpted like Michael's).

Laslo Spatula said...

They should have hired Forest Whitaker to play Marlon Brando.

That would make things even.

And he'd be great in the part.

Seriously.

Hollywood: I'm here.

I am Laslo.

Brando said...

Stopped at EVERY KFC and BK? How does he not get full? There must be one of those every hour at least.

As for the casting, where did it become the rule that a white person playing a non-white is the same thing as the racial mockery that was 1920s blackface? If today's morons can't see the distinction then they should try educating themselves. We already have enough stupidity, thank you.

Curious George said...

It's not that he looked like Michael. It's that he liked to diddle little boys.

jr565 said...

Hey if a black guy can play the human torch its' only fair that a white guy plays Michael Jackson. And at any rate, at a certain point of his career, he looked very light skinned.
Race may in fact be a social construct, as per Rachel Dolenzal, so, why not.


Laslo Spatula said...

"They should have hired Forest Whitaker to play Marlon Brando.

And Viola Davis as Elizabeth Taylor..

That would provide context to Michael Jackson being white.

In some contextual way.

I am Laslo.

Nurse Rooke said...

I'm not at all bothered by Joseph Fiennes playing Michael Jackson, but I am amused that he describes himself as just an ordinary middle-class bloke from London:


Fiennes was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, in 1970, the son of photographer Mark Fiennes and novelist Jennifer Lash. The youngest of six siblings, his elder siblings are actor Ralph Fiennes; filmmakers Sophie Fiennes and Martha Fiennes; composer Magnus Fiennes; conservationist Jacob Fiennes, his twin brother; and archaeologist Mike Emery, his foster brother. He is a third cousin to explorer Ranulph Fiennes (that's Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes--and his title of Sir comes from a hereditary baronetcy) and eighth cousin of the Prince of Wales. (annotated from Wikipedia)

Michael McClain said...

I believe its called acting.

AlbertAnonymous said...

C'mon Professor. Of course his nose is all wrong. Everyone's nose is all wrong. MJ's nose was freakish...

Char Char Binks said...

Robert Downey Jr. wasn't available?

sydney said...

If it is true that they drove all the way to Ohio, I doubt anyone would have recognized them at the gas stations and KFCs along the way. In person, one would probably mistake Michael Jackson for a burn victim, and Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando for his elderly parents. But, I don't believe for one minute they drove to Ohio by themselves. And I don't believe Michael led them like General Washington, or that friends from Saudi Arabia warned him the US was under attack.

William said...

Perhaps it's an urban legend, but I have read that Lana Turner and Ava Gardner went out for a drive. They stopped at a gas station. The attendant there was cute. Just for a goof, they invited him to join them. They went to a motel where they spent the afternoon discussing FDR's stamp collection or whatever.......If this movie is successful, I would like to see a screen treatment of this story. It's an interesting variation on the Waiting for Godot fable.......I wonder if anyone ever believed the gas station attendant when he told the story. I wonder if all the rest of his life was an anti- climax. It's an interesting ethical dilemma. Should beautiful movie stars engage in threesomes with random strangers?

Ann Althouse said...

As for the nose, I suppose you'd want the smallest possible nose. Build up from there.

wildswan said...

They should have Caitlynn to play Elizabeth Taylor and Will Smith to play Marlon Brando and Oprah for Michel Jackson. The differences - what differences?

eric said...

mistake Michael Jackson for a burn victim

Michael Jackson was a burn victim. From a 1983 Pepsi commercial.

sydney said...

Eric,
I forgot about that! I wonder if that is what sent him down the plastic surgery path.

eric said...

Sydney,

From everything I've read, he suffered a lot from those burns and that's why he was so odd looking. Not just physically suffered, but mentally suffered.

Quaestor said...

not upturned and sculpted like Michael's

Interesting use of the word sculpted... though it did look like a chisel was involved in its creation.

wildswan said...

They might have got as far as Ohio - I've been over that route, it is about seven hours. Once you are in the Pennsylvania mountains, only about 4 hours from New York, there are very few motels, hotels. These few always fill up very early if there is any event whatsoever going on in the Alleghenies (and on a day like that they probably filled immediately.) Ohio quickly becomes better than turning back. I'd like to see a light comedy based on the reactions of those three spoiled, entitled persons as they realized they couldn't get rooms anywhere short of Ohio. And there are not many KFC's either. Marlon's distress as restaurants thinned down to nothing. Liz freaking as there as no room to fix her makeup. Michael Jackson, stopping the car for practice moves for an Allegheny suite dance - the scenery is great. I think Marlon Brando might have been the driver as working class roots surged up. "Yes I can drive by myself, watch me, Liz. See, Michael." "Are we there yet?" "Where?" "We are somewhere, Ohio is ahead, Manhattan behind, that's all I know." "Ohio. Do you suppose it really exists?" "Let's go on and see. The attackers would never find us there." "But where will WE be when we are there?" Will ANYONE find US? Do they have telephones?" "Oh, of course they do." " Oh, you're so sure, we can't get reservations anywhere and there's nothing but mountains for miles and miles and the twin towers fell." "Maybe the Saudis could send a plane." "They gave us such a funny look at that last place when you casually mentioned that the Saudi ROYALTY had personally warned us and that's why we were fleeing, even if it means Ohio or I suppose Aspen would be nice. Is that far from Ohio?"

Henry said...

Totally agree with Laslo today.

Forest Whittaker for Marlon Brando.

Viola Davis for Elizabeth Taylor.

and Tilda Swinton to play Michael Jackson.

Ann Althouse said...

"Angela Bassett, who played Tina Turner in biopic What's Love Got to Do With It, joked on Twitter she had "ordered violet contacts" and was "ready" to play Taylor after Sleepy Hollow star Orlando Jones suggested she play the actress."

Ann Althouse said...

"Totally agree with Laslo today. Forest Whittaker for Marlon Brando. Viola Davis for Elizabeth Taylor. and Tilda Swinton to play Michael Jackson."

Great choices!

lemondog said...

Who cares about the nose! Does he have the dance moves.....

Oh, no.....
Inspired by Ron Chernow's best-selling biography of Alexander Hamilton, it recounts its complex tale in a far hipper, multicultural manner, featuring a largely hip-hop, rap-heavy musical score and a cast mostly composed of Hispanic and black actors.

samanthasmom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
samanthasmom said...

If Tyler Perry can play a woman, Joseph Fiennes can play Michael Jackson.

William said...

Forrest Whittaker is one of the best actors of his generation. He has tremendous range and lends credibility to all his roles. The one role he cannot handle is that of a matinee idol, but perhaps he could play an overweight, aging matinee idol. I don think it would be such a joke to have him play Brando.

Fernandinande said...

Homer presents the citizens of Springfield with "Michael Jackson", a.k.a. Leon Kompowsky.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

The age of congruence has conclusively deprecated the use of class diversity schemes, human rights, civil rights, moral philosophy, scientific philosophy, etc.

Char Char Binks said...

I feel a-tragic like I'm Marlon Brando.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

There's an awesome King Lear with James Earl Jones as Lear. DVD available at Amazon.

cubanbob said...

Yaphet Kotto playing Marlon Brando in white face.

Shermlock Shomes said...

Ossie Davis played JFK in Bubba Ho-Tep, so. . .