As the entertainment world gears up for the Sky Arts TV comedy Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon, the choice to cast white actor Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson has been controversial to say the least. Adding to the controversy, a 1993 video of an Oprah Winfrey interview has been unearthed where he told the host that he wouldn’t want to be played by a white actor.
The idea came out while Winfrey was questioning him about rumors at the time that he wanted to cast a white child actor to portray him in a Pepsi commercial.
“That is so stupid,” Jackson said to Winfrey. “That’s the most ridiculous, horrifying story I’ve ever heard… Number one, it’s my face as a child in the commercial. Me when I was little. Why would I want a white child to play me? I’m a black American. I am proud to be a black American. I am proud of my race. I am proud of who I am. I have a lot of pride and dignity. That’s like you wanting an oriental person to play you as a child.”
Oprah then persisted with discussing his skin color in the interview, noting how much it had changed from childhood to adulthood and asking, “Is your skin lighter because you don’t like being black?” Jackson went on to explain that he suffered from a skin condition that destroys pigment. Although he did not say the name of condition, vitiligo is one condition that can lighten the skin in a blotchy pattern such as Jackson mentioned.
“It’s something that I cannot help, but when people make up stories that I don’t want to be who I am, it hurts me,” Jackson said to Winfrey. “It’s a problem for me. I can’t control it, okay?”
Considering these feelings he expressed about skin color and how he did not want a white actor to portray him at that time, one has to believe he would not be thrilled by the idea of a white actor playing him now. The film in question, Elizabeth Michael & Marlon, is based on the alleged escape of Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson from New York after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. While it has not been confirmed as to whether or not the road trip actually took place, the movie is definitely moving forward, with white actor Fiennes portraying Jackson.