Following the massive success of Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody in 2018, one of its producers, Graham King, secured the rights to tell the story of Michael Jackson in an upcoming movie. Titled Michael, the movie will tell the late King of Pop’s life story, warts and all, and Training Day filmmaker Antoine Fuqua will direct it. Following Jackson’s own nephew, Jaafar Jackson, nabbing the part, Fuqua has shared his thoughts on the casting move.
Jaafar Jackson, who is the 27-year-old son of Michael Jackson’s brother, Jermaine Jackson, was cast in the role of Michael Jackson back in January 2023. Antoine Fuqua had this to say to Entertainment Weekly about casting him:
It's uncanny how much he's like Michael. Sounds like him, dances like him, sings. It's really uncanny. Graham King, who is a fantastic producer, found him, and introduced him to me, and I was blown away.
Jaafar’s father Jermaine was one of the members of the Jackson 5 with Michael Jackson. The young man has been singing and dancing since he was 12 and received the approval of Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine, who shared that he “embodies” her late son. Michael will serve as Jaafar Jackson’s movie debut.
The script for Michael is being written by John Logan of beloved movies like The Aviator, Skyfall and Gladiator, though its development is currently on hold alongside a host of other Hollywood movies as the 2023 WGA writers strike continues to have writers on the picket line protesting how studios compensate their work. Fuqua also said this about making Michael:
Just to tell the facts as we know it, about the artist, about the man, about the human being. You know, the good, bad, and the ugly.
After it was announced that a Michael Jackson movie was being made, the director of the 2019 documentary Leaving Neverland blasted the biopic and criticized the “total absence of outrage” surrounding the movie’s announcement. Based on Fuqua’s comments on Michael, the biopic will tell multiple dimensions of the Michael Jackson story and not steer clear of his child sexual abuse allegations, which he went on trial for in 2005 ahead of his death in 2009 from cardiac arrest caused by a drug overdose.
Fuqua was just behind one of 2023 new movie releases with The Equalizer 3. The movie starring Denzel Washington rounded off a trilogy of action movies about a former U.S. Marine and DIA officer who reluctantly becomes a vigilante. Fuqua actually got his start making music videos for artists including Toni Braxton and Stevie Wonder before making movies including Shooter, Southpaw and last year’s Emancipation.
While it will be sometime before we see Michael, Antoine Fuqua sounds confident in his star. We’ll keep you updated here on CinemaBlend as the movie continues to move through development.