Actor Joseph Fiennes has responded to criticism he’s received since being cast as Michael Jackson in an upcoming TV comedy. The outcry has stemmed from the fact that Fiennes, who is white, has been cast as the late king of pop.

Furthermore, MJ fans have done their research and uncovered a 1993 interview that Jackson did with Oprah Winfrey, in which he said that he would not want a white actor to portray him in any TV or movie representation.

45 year old Fiennes, the younger brother of fellow actor Ralph, will be playing Jackson in the one-off, half-hour Sky Arts programme ‘Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon’, which will tell the (possibly apocryphal) tale of how the pop star took a road trip with Elizabeth Taylor (who’ll be played by Stockard Channing) and Marlon Brando (Brian Cox) out of New York City in the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

Joseph FiennesJoseph Fiennes was controversially cast as Michael Jackson earlier this week

He spoke to Entertainment Tonight on Thursday (January 28th) about his surprise at the casting. “I'm a white, middle-class guy from London,” he said. “I'm as shocked as you may be.”

However, he believed that the casting wasn’t so absurd as to merit the outrage the news received when it was announced on Wednesday. “[Jackson] definitely had an issue - a pigmentation issue - and that's something I do believe,” he said. “He was probably closer to my colour than his original colour.”

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In the Oprah interview, when asked about the rumour back then that he wanted a white child to play him in a Pepsi commercial, Jackson replied: “That is so stupid, that's the most ridiculous, horrifying story I've ever heard… …why would I want a white child to play me?”

The casting sparked a firestorm on social media. “They seriously couldn't find a black actor to play Michael Jackson?” one activist wrote on Twitter.

Fiennes also spoke about the quality of the writing on the project. “The writing is a delight,” he enthused. “And the kind of interaction between the three of them is funny, and also full of pathos. It's people who are so iconic, but also can be detached. You know, you can get detached from society. So it's examining that kind of wonderful and mad detachment.”

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