Fresh off receiving his first Oscar nomination, Colman Domingo has been cast as Joe Jackson, the father of Michael Jackson, in the Antoine Fuqua-directed biopic “Michael.”
The casting announcement comes after the news Jackson’s real-life nephew Jaafar would portray the King of Pop, with 9-year-old Juliano Krue Valdi tackling the singer during his early days.
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“It’s exciting to do it with Jaafar,” Domingo tells Variety exclusively during an upcoming episode of the Awards Circuit Podcast. “Jermaine Jackson’s son is playing Michael, and he is breathtaking, and I think Graham King, the producer, has assembled an incredible cast.”
He adds in a statement: “I’m excited to be a part of a film that explores both the complicated soul of the legendary Michael Jackson as well as his impact on music and culture as a global icon. Not only am I fortunate to have a rich, complex and flawed character to portray in Joe Jackson, but I also have a front row seat for Jaafar’s incredible transformation.”
A complicated figure in the Michael Jackson legacy following multiple allegations and stories of mental and physical abuse during the pop singer’s childhood, Domingo’s casting as the talent manager of the Jackson 5 will be one that will build excitement surrounding the film.
A best actor nominee this year for his portrayal of civil rights leader Bayard Rustin in George C. Wolfe’s “Rustin,” Domingo has also been nominated for a Golden Globe, BAFTA, Critics Choice and SAG nom for his work. In addition, he also starred as the monstrous “Mr.” in Blitz Bazawule’s musical adaptation of the Alice Walker novel and 1985 film “The Color Purple.”
“Few actors present themselves with Colman’s screen presence and force of will,” said King. “We’re so fortunate to have an actor with his undeniable talent portraying Joe Jackson on screen. We couldn’t be more excited to have him join us on this journey.”
Fuqua added, “Colman has such incredible range – he puts in the work to deeply inhabit his characters and understand their true essence and motivation. I’m grateful to be working with an actor with his passion and ability to portray the many sides of Joe Jackson: a husband, a father and a manager.”
Production for the film began on Monday, Jan. 22, which was shared via Jaafar’s Instagram page with two behind-the-scenes images of the actor in costume as the pop icon in his signature hat.
Per the official logline, “‘Michael’ will bring audiences a riveting and honest portrayal of the brilliant yet complicated man who became the King of Pop. The film presents his triumphs and tragedies on an epic, cinematic scale — from his human side and personal struggles to his undeniable creative genius, exemplified by his most iconic performances. As never before, audiences will experience an inside look into one of the most influential, trailblazing artists the world has ever known.”
The biopic is produced by Graham King and the co-executors of the Michael Jackson estate, John Branca and John McClain. Lionsgate is distributing the film domestically, while Universal Pictures International will handle all territories apart from Japan, which Lionsgate will oversee.
Domingo is already filling up his 2024 calendar with his busy schedule. He executive produced the horror movie “It’s What’s Inside,” which premiered at Sundance and sold for $17 million to Netflix. He’ll also appear in feature films such as Ethan Coen’s “Drive-Away Dolls” and Greg Kewdar’s “Sing Sing,” which he also produced.
Domingo is represented by Gersh, Liebman Entertainment, Schreck Rose Dapello Adams Berlin & Dunham and Wolf Kasteler Public Relations.
“Michael” is scheduled to hit theaters on April 18, 2025.
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