The first glimpse of Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson in a forthcoming British TV comedy has been released.
Fiennes plays the late pop icon in Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon, an episode of Urban Myths, Sky Arts’ upcoming comedy series recreating rumoured tales about celebrities. Stockard Channing co-stars in the episode as the late Elizabeth Taylor and veteran Scottish actor Brian Cox (Rushmore, Troy) portrays the late Marlon Brando.
The one-off 30-minute comedy is based on an urban legend, entertainingly documented in a 2011 Vanity Fair article, which claims Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando fled New York City together in a rental car in the wake of 9/11.
According to the legend, Jackson had invited the Hollywood icons to his concert at Madison Square Garden and after the 9/11 attacks, when all air travel was cancelled, the trio decided to take a road trip to safety in California. “They actually got as far as Ohio – all three of them, in a car they drove themselves,” a former employee of Jackson later claimed. Along the way, they apparently made pitstops at several fast food restaurants.
Another episode of Urban Myths features actor Iwan Rheon – aka Ramsay Bolton from Game Of Thrones – portraying Adolf Hitler. Rheon plays a young Hitler in an episode co-starring Harry Potter’s Rupert Grint as “Hitler’s friend”.
See the first glimpse of Fiennes as Jackson and Rheon as Hitler in Sky Arts’ Urban Myths trailer below.
Following the trailer’s debut, some fans have suggested that Fiennes as Michael Jackson bears a resemblance to The Mighty Boosh‘s Noel Fielding. Check out their tweets below.
Who's up for a game of Joseph Fiennes playing Michael Jackson or Noel fielding? pic.twitter.com/CIsH4vGXOG
— Lars von Trier as 'pie' (@M0by_Duck) January 11, 2017
Wait, is this a biopic about Michael Jackson or Noel Fielding? pic.twitter.com/qvHx6QYNSc
— Dr Miranda Fay Thomas (@DrMirandaFay) January 11, 2017
Wait this is real?? Christ. Looks like a Jim Henson puppet of Noel Fielding that's been rescued from a house fire https://t.co/Oeqkbtlp4j
— Hywel Roberts (@HywelRoberts2) January 11, 2017
Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson looks kinda like Noel Fielding circa 2006 pic.twitter.com/95SiH1tVLr
— Adam Taylor (@mradamtaylor) January 11, 2017
When Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon was announced, some commentators criticised the decision to cast Fiennes, who is white, as the black pop icon, but the Shakespeare In Love actor insisted he is an appropriate choice to portray Jackson.
“I’m a white, middle-class guy from London. I’m as shocked as you may be,” Fiennes told Entertainment Tonight before adding: “[Michael Jackson] definitely had an issue – a pigmentation issue – and that’s something I do believe. He was probably closer to my colour than his original colour.”
Chris Brown later called Fiennes’ casting “corny ass shit”.
Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon will air as part of Urban Myths, which begins on Sky Arts on January 19.