Fiennes portrayed Michael Jackson in the British TV production, and in the episode, his character embarks on a cross-country road trip with Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando following the events of 9/11. The whole thing was based on an urban legend.
The trailer was released in January to swift backlash. The idea of a Caucasian actor playing Michael Jackson was not well-received. Even Michael’s daughter, Paris Jackson, weighed in with her thoughts on Twitter, writing, “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.”
In a new interview, Joseph defended his casting, telling Vulture: “Well, it’s a satire, so we have to look at it through that lens. The depiction of the three characters is very satirical, comic, lighthearted to examine the disconnect of iconic celebrity. But it’s good that people stand up for [what they believe], and I’m all for that. I’m all for that discussion, and it means a lot to me and my fellow actors to talk about casting, getting it right, getting it wrong, and then, if there’s a mistake, to examine that mistake and talk about it. Maybe the controversy is good if it brings about discussion. But it is satire. It’s a 20-minute sketch, and it’s lighthearted,” he added.
He also insisted that it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously, “It’s no less offensive than anything on SNL. That’s the level of offense.”
Sky TV never released the episode, and Fiennes wishes people could have seen his portrayal. However, he has no regrets about taking the role: “In life, you can’t avoid getting into hot water. It’s all lessons and learning. As an actor, you take on roles, and nobody has seen it, so nobody can even have the full comment, because they haven’t witnessed it.”
Caitlyn Jenner has always known O.J. Simpson did it:
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