Joseph Fiennes defends his Michael Jackson casting

British actor Joseph Fiennes has defended his decision to play black American pop star Michael Jackson despite a massive uproar over the casting of a white actor.

Fiennes said he was “shocked” at being offered the role, but he does not see the harm in taking on “a wonderful role” in what is “just a satire.”

Fiennes is set to play the king of pop in Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon, a surreal comedy produced by British pay-TV channel Sky Arts. The film reportedly portrays a rumoured road trip undertaken by the pop icon, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando after the 9/11 terror attacks in New York City, New York Daily News reports.

“I was shocked that they would come to me for the casting. You have to ask them as to why they would want to cast me,” Fiennes said. Ask is exactly what numerous critics have done after the announcement triggered intense debate over the lack of diversity in mainstream film.

It was previously reported that the internet reacted angrily as the news broke amidst the raging #OscarsSoWhite debate focused on the lack of diversity and opportunities for non-white actors in mainstream Hollywood film.

Fiennes, however, believes critics are overstating the importance of his role and the film. “It’s a satire, it’s just a 20-minute satire,” he insisted. “It’s a sketch about a story that could have been a legend or could have been true. So we’ll see what the audience make of it.”

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