Paris Jackson, daughter of the late Michael Jackson, has criticised Joseph Fiennes’ portrayal of her father in a new British comedy series.
The first glimpse of Shakespeare In Love actor Fiennes as the King of Pop was revealed yesterday in a trailer for Urban Myths, Sky Arts’ upcoming comedy series recreating rumoured tales about celebrities.
Fiennes plays Jackson in Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon, an episode in which Stockard Channing co-stars as the late Elizabeth Taylor and veteran Scottish actor Brian Cox (Rushmore, Troy) portrays the late Marlon Brando.
Fans jokingly compared Fiennes’ face in the trailer to The Mighty Boosh star Noel Fielding, but Paris Jackson expressed graver concerns with the casting decision.
Asked for her thoughts on Fiennes’ portrayal of her father on Twitter, she replied: “i’m so incredibly offended by it, as i’m sure plenty of people are as well, and it honestly makes me want to vomit.”
She also criticised the depiction of her godmother Elizabeth Taylor in the series, writing: “it angers me to see how obviously intentional it was for them to be this insulting, not just towards my father, but my godmother liz as well.”
“where is the respect?” she added. “they worked through blood sweat and tears for ages to create such profound and remarkable legacies. shameful portrayal.”
Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon is 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.
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.
However, after the trailer debuted yesterday (January 11), a petition has been launched calling on fans to boycott Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon because the episode cast a white actor as Jackson.
Its author Julie Rodriguez writes: “This casting is incredibly disrespectful and I think it’s important to send a message to Sky Arts telling them as much. Jackson experienced plenty of racist discrimination during his early career as a Black performer, and casting a white actor to play him erases and minimises the very real struggles he went through in life.”
She adds: “Developing a skin condition, or simply being light-skinned, doesn’t mean that people of colour lose our ethnicity, culture, and family history.” At the same of writing, the petition has attracted over 20,000 signatures.
Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon will air as part of Urban Myths, which begins on Sky Arts on January 19.