In the upcoming Sky Arts anthology series Urban Myths, Joseph Fiennes will be portraying Michael Jackson. As if that weren’t crazy enough, the episode in which Jackson appears revolves around the urban myth that after 9/11 he, long time friend Elizabeth Taylor, and Marlon Brando went on a spontaneous joy ride. Besides the outlandish nature of the performance, the casting of the episode is kind of insane as well. Stockard Channing as an older Elizabeth Taylor could be a transcendent performance, and Bryan Cox seems to be doing some interesting things with his late-stage Marlon Brando impersonation in this short clip. But then Fiennes pops up, and the result is a pretty horrifying approximation of Michael — at any stage of his career.
Twitter, naturally, had some thoughts about this particular casting and makeup choice.
— Tammy Tam (@nubiansweet) January 11, 2017
Okay? But why does Joseph Fiennes as MJ look like the scarecrow you'd find at the edge of a pumpkin patch!? pic.twitter.com/OxFjP5SZQs
— Rosalina Watson † (@AboutRosalina) January 11, 2017
They have Joseph Fiennes playing Michael Jackson. Maybe Tom Hanks will play Berry Gordy in the next Motown movie.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) January 10, 2017
They made Michael Jackson look like Slender Man and a ball of mozzarella had a baby but let a failed jazz singer raise it.
— Ashley C. Ford (@iSmashFizzle) January 10, 2017
Me after I saw Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson pic.twitter.com/YuqgCXT0CI
— GEEK HOES (@beatrixforkiddo) January 11, 2017
To the Jackson family, I'm so sorry you have to deal with another smear on Michael's legacy. Shameful. #josephfiennes
— Samar @TheMJAP (@TheMJAP) January 11, 2017
This is probably not the reaction that Sky Arts’ was expecting or hoping for when they uploaded a first look at the show to the internet. But the internet can be ruthless, especially when an iconic musician like Michael is involved in the controversy. Joseph Fiennes is a genuinely talented actor, even though his career has sputtered a bit lately, so there’s a good chance that the performance will be far better than this makeup.
See the full trailer below for the series and check out all of the other “anticipated” performances, including Game of Thrones‘ Iwan Rheon as Hitler himself.