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Shakespeare In Love star to play Michael Jackson in odd road trip comedy

joe fiennes plays michael jackson tv movie joseph risen
Image used with permission by copyright holder
When you think about who might play Michael Jackson in a movie, who’s the first person that comes to mind? Chances are, it isn’t Joe Fiennes, the man best known for playing William Shakespeare in Shakespeare in Love. But, according to CinemaBlend, the actor will indeed play the King of Pop in a nutty-sounding road trip comedy.

The TV movie, which hails from U.K.-based Sky Arts, is based (at least loosely) on a supposed true story whereby Jackson rented a car with friends Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando after the World Trade Center terrorist attacks in September 2001 halted all flights out of New York City.

Jackson was in the Big Apple during the attacks for an anniversary concert at Madison Square Garden. As the story goes, the three A-listers set out to make the long journey from NYC to California. Though some versions of the story, including one that was detailed in Vanity Fair, suggest that they only made it as far as Ohio. Still, that’s at least eight hours worth of antics from which to draw for the movie, which will simply be called Elizabeth, Michael, and Marlon.

The story, which is only known through a series of second-hand accounts, could very well be the victim of some serious broken telephone. Some suggest that Taylor was never even present in the car. Nevertheless, the movie will undoubtedly offer some odd-ball antics, and quite possibly some hilarious moments. It was written by Neil Forsyth (Bob Servant) and will be directed by Ben Palmer (The Inbetweeners.) Sky Arts and Fiennes refer to it as a “lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek” look at the situation, the celebrities, and their relationships.

In addition to the puzzling choice of Fiennes to play Jackson (clearly plenty of makeup will be involved to transform him; but then again, wouldn’t that be the case with anyone?), Stockard Channing has been tapped to play Taylor, and Scottish actor Brian Cox (Pixels, Forsaken) will take on the role of The Godfather himself, Brando.

For his part, 45-year-old Fiennes has been busy on the acting scene since his most notable role as the prolific playwright in 1998. He was most recently seen in American Horror Story: Asylum, and has had a long list of parts in various films and series through the 2000s, including Luther, Running With Scissors (where he was reunited with his Shakespeare in Love co-star Gweneth Paltrow), and The Red Baron. He also appeared in sci-fi TV series FlashForward in 2009 and 2010, and in Camelot in 2011. Fiennes is the younger brother of accomplished actor Ralph Fiennes, perhaps best known for his role as Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series.

There’s no confirmed air date for Elizabeth, Michael, and Marlon, though Sky Arts has said that it will run some time “this year.” There’s no word on whether we’ll get to feast our eyes on this creation in North America.

Christine Persaud
Christine has decades of experience in trade and consumer journalism. While she started her career writing exclusively about…
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