Lionsgate’s Michael Jackson biopic has brought in 9-year-old Juliano Krue Valdi to play the younger Michael Jackson.
Valdi will appear in the film, which stars the late music legend’s nephew Jaafar Jackson, who will play the older Jackson in the film about the singer’s life.
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“This opportunity is really important to me because Michael Jackson is the King of Pop, and he is very special in my heart. I’ve been dancing to his songs for five years now. He makes me feel really special and makes me feel good about myself. I love the energy of Michael Jackson,” Valdi said in a statement.
He will play the young Michael Jackson as he and his brothers rise to fame as the Jackson 5, the singing sensation behind such iconic hits as “I Want You Back,” “ABC” and “I’ll Be There.”
The project will be directed by Antoine Fuqua, who said in a statement about casting Valdi: “If anything, casting the role of the young Michael was more difficult than casting the adult role, because where do you find a child actor with the chops of the greatest entertainer who ever lived? In the end, that was our focus — talent — and we looked far and wide for an actor who could embody Michael’s spirit through his voice, his charisma, and his dance skills. Juliano’s undeniable, raw talent put him at the top of our list.”
Universal Pictures has international rights for the film, excluding Japan. Graham King, a seasoned hand at biopics with the Oscar-winning Queen film Bohemian Rhapsody under his belt, is producing along with John Branca and John McClain, who are the co-executors of the Michael Jackson estate. John Logan, who penned Gladiator and The Aviator, wrote the script.
According to Lionsgate, the film will cover all aspects of Jackson’s life, though it is unclear how — or even if — it will address the many controversies involving the late music icon, given that the biopic is being made in conjunction with his estate, which has defended him against accusations of sexually abusing children. Those accusations were returned to the public discourse thanks to the 2019 HBO documentary Leaving Neverland.
Lionsgate and Universal Pictures International have slated the worldwide release for April 18, 2025. The film will begin principal photography next week.
Valdi is repped by Tanesia Tramell at 117 Artists Management and Paradigm.
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