Joseph Fiennes defends being chosen for Michael Jackson role

NEW YORK - Joseph Fiennes is defending himself in the wake of criticism after being cast as Michael Jackson in an upcoming half-hour TV special, acknowledging the topic is "sensitive" but never intending it to be divisive.

See Full Article

The white actor will play the King of Pop in the upcoming Sky Arts comedy "Elizabeth, Michael, and Marlon," which tells the story of a road trip taken by Jackson, Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor as they flee New York City after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

"I deal in imagination, so I don't think imagination should have rules stamped on them," Fiennes told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "If it promotes stereotyping, then it's wrong. I made a distinction that the Jackson project doesn't do that."

The casting of Fiennes comes as controversy rages over the lack of diversity in the Oscar nominations and in the film industry at large. The actor admitted to being initially surprised by the colorblind casting. "It was a shock. I thought someone had got it wrong."

But the "Shakespeare in Love" actor said he loves a challenge, providing it's in good taste.

"This is territory that is sensitive. One must determine if this portrayal is one that is going to be positive entertainment, and one that will not bring about division and put anyone's noses out of joint, so I went with the mind that this was a positive light-hearted comedy," Fiennes said.

"This is not a movie; it's a small television 20-minute sketch. It's a very sweet comedy that looks at Michael, Marlon and Taylor," Fiennes said. The actor admits if it were anything more, "I wouldn't be the guy for the job."

Fiennes recounted an incident of discrimination he witnessed many years ago in England when a black actress was picked to play an iconic white woman.

"Twenty years ago I worked for the National Theatre as a dresser. I saw a brilliant actress do Marilyn Monroe. Two critics refused to see it because she was black. I was working it from behind the stage and I couldn't understand it because she was Marilyn for me. It was a lack of imagination on their part," he said.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Judge withholds ruling on Meek Mill's request for new trial

    Entertainment CTV News
    Rapper Meek Mill speaks outside the Philadelphia Criminal Justice in Center City, Pa., on Monday, June 18, 2018, as he attends a hearing to determine whether he should get a new trial in his decade-old gun and drug convictions. Source
  • Telefilm says gender gap remains for big-budget films

    Entertainment CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Telefilm Canada says there remains "a significant" gender gap in the big-budget films it backs. But statistics released Monday suggest the federal agency is well on its way to achieving its goal of gender parity in key film roles by 2020. Source
  • Just For Laughs production company promotes COO Bruce Hills to president

    Entertainment CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Just For Laughs Group has appointed a familiar face to oversee operations going forward, tapping a longtime executive as president on Monday. Bruce Hills, who had served as chief operating officer for the Montreal-based company for the past 19 years, enters the new job immediately. Source
  • Cookies for Khloe: Manitoba cookie company gets custom Kardashian order

    Entertainment CTV News
    WINNIPEG -- A Manitoba cookie company is getting praise from Khloe Kardashian for custom creations featuring her daughter True. The famous Kardashian posted a photo of the custom-order cookies made by Winnipeg's Scientific Sweets on Instagram. Source
  • Flashing lights in 'Incredibles 2' prompt warnings for people at risk of seizures

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- Cineplex theatres showing "Incredibles 2" have posted health-related warnings to moviegoers about Disney's animated feature, which opened on the weekend. Cineplex spokeswoman Sarah Van Lange says the theatres posted warnings about scenes containing flashing lights that could trigger seizures in some people with epilepsy. Source
  • Private jet once owned by Elvis Presley for sale - again

    Entertainment CTV News
    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A private jet once owned by Elvis Presley that has sat on a runway in New Mexico for nearly four decades is back on the auction block. The online auction site IronPlanet announced this week that the plane with red velvet seats had returned the market after its current owner bought it last year for $430,000. Source
  • Kate Spade's funeral to be held in birthplace of Kansas City

    Entertainment CTV News
    KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A funeral will be held for fashion designer Kate Spade this week in Kansas City, where she was born. The Kansas City Star reports that services for Spade are planned for 3 p.m. Source
  • Michael Jackson's elephant escapes enclosure at Florida zoo

    Entertainment CTV News
    This 2017 photo provided by the Jacksonville Zoo and Garden shows Ali, a bull elephant that once lived at Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch briefly escaped its enclosure on Sunday, June 17, 2018, at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in Jacksonville, Fla. Source
  • Artist buried for three days under busy Australian road

    Entertainment CTV News
    An artist has emerged from three days entombed in a steel box under a busy Australian road in a performance billed as a tribute to victims of totalitarian violence. Mike Parr, 73, fasted during his time underground, with oxygen pumped into the 1.7-metre by 2.2-metre container to keep him alive as traffic drove on overhead. Source
  • Roll out the barrels: Christo artwork floats on London lake

    Entertainment CTV News
    LONDON - The ducks, geese and hardy cold-water swimmers in London's Hyde Park have a new neighbour: a monumental floating structure made from 7,506 stacked barrels colored bright red, mauve and blue. "The London Mastaba" is the latest work by artist Christo, who has previously wrapped Berlin's Reichstag in silver fabric and festooned New York's Central Park with thousands of saffron-colored cloth "gates. Source