Michael Jackson might be turning over in his grave after learning that he’s going to be played in a TV series by white British actor Joseph Fiennes.
Fiennes responded to backlash from fans that he would be portraying the king of pop in upcoming U.K. comedy about Jackson’s life in 2001.
“I’m a white, middle-class guy from London,” Fiennes told ET. “I’m as shocked as you may be.”
Ultimately, Fiennes believes that the race issue can be overlooked in this particular instance.
“[Jackson] definitely had an issue — a pigmentation issue — and that’s something I do believe,” the Shakespeare in Love star explained. “He was probably closer to my color than his original color.”
During Jackson’s infamous interview with Oprah Winfrey at his Neverland Ranch in 1993, he was adamant that he never wanted to be portrayed on-screen by a white actor.
When asked by Winfrey about rumor than he wanted a white boy to play him early 90’s Pepsi commercial, Jackson fired back, “That is so stupid. That’s the most ridiculous, horrifying story I’ve ever heard. It’s crazy.”
He continued, expressing his desire to stay true to his identity as a black man.
“It’s my face as a child in the commercial,” Jackson said. “Me when I was little. Why would I want a white child to play me? I’m a black American. I’m a black American. I’m proud to be a black American. I am proud of my race. I am proud of who I am. That’s like you [Oprah] wanting an oriental person to play you as a child. Does that make sense? Please people stop believing these horrifying stories.”
Jump to 3:47 during Oprah’s interview to hear Jackson’s comments on being played by a white actor.