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Upcoming Michael Jackson Biopic Already Causing Controversy

Photo Credit: 1. Frank Edwards / Fotos International / Getty Images 2. Araya Diaz / Getty Images for REELZ
Photo Credit: 1. Frank Edwards / Fotos International / Getty Images 2. Araya Diaz / Getty Images for REELZ

Michael Jackson’s death was an absolute shock to the world. At just 50 years old, he suffered a cardiac arrest on June 25, 2009. Many remember just where they were when they heard the news, as he was more than a star – he was a legend.

While he’s largely remembered for his incredible and inimitable musical genius, he’s also known for the abuse claims against him. With an upcoming biopic about his life, starring the late King of Pop’s nephew, we wonder just how much is going to be included. Some think the whole thing is going to be biased.

Telling the story of Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson performing on stage
Michael Jackson, 1986. (Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur / WireImage / Getty Images)

Back in January 2023, it was announced that the next major biopic about a musician, following the likes of Bohemian Rhapsody (2018), Rocket Man (2019) and Elvis (2022), is set to be about Michael Jackson.

On what would have been the late singer’s 65th birthday, director Antoine Fuqua revealed that the film, simply titled Michael, will focus on all aspects of Jackson’s life, including his musical genius and the several controversies surrounding him. Written by John Logan, who wrote the likes of Skyfall (2012), The Aviator (2004) and Gladiator (2000), the biopic will include “his most iconic performances that led him to become the greatest entertainer of all time.”

The official synopsis reads:

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.”

As of yet, it’s unclear what Jackson’s three children, Paris, Prince and Bigi (formerly Blanket), think about the upcoming film, but that doesn’t mean the Jackson family isn’t involved. It’s slated to begin production in late January 2024, with a scheduled release date of April 18, 2025.

How will the biopic handle the allegations?

Michael and Joe Jackson walking among a large crowd of people
Michael Jackson and his father, Joseph, depart the courthouse after listening to closing arguments in his trial at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, 2005. (Photo Credit: Carlo Allegri / Getty Images)

While his legacy as a musician will never be forgotten, it’s been difficult to shake the abuse allegations that plagued the pop singer later in life. While alive, Michael Jackson maintained his innocence and was even tried and found not guilty.

However, following his passing, rumors continued to spread, especially following the release of the HBO documentary, Leaving Neverland (2019). Two men who participated in it, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, allege the singer abused them for years when they were children.

Interestingly, the biopic will be made in coordination with the Jackson Estate, with co-executors John Branca and John McClain, who’ve repeatedly denied the claims, working with the team. As such, many are curious as to how it will portray such controversy from Jackson’s personal life.

Antoine Fuqua says they’re going to approach the singer’s life the only way they can – from the facts. “Me and Graham King, the producer who did Bohemian Rhapsody, we’re going to tell the facts as we know it, and it’s for the audience to make a decision how they feel about Michael, but we’re going to tell the facts as we know it,” he explained.

Michael Jackson’s nephew is a spitting image of him

Little has been revealed about the biopic, especially in the wake of the SAG-AFTRA strike. However, one thing has been confirmed: Jaafar Jackson, the nephew of the late star, will play the titular role. Son of Jermaine Jackson, this massive undertaking will serve as the 27-year-old’s acting debut.

Graham King shared his experience in casting Jaafar for the part, saying:

“I met Jaafar over two years ago and was blown away by the way he organically personifies the spirit and personality of Michael. It was something so powerful that even after conducting a worldwide search, it was clear that he is the only person to take on this role. I am beyond thrilled that he has come on board to portray his uncle and cannot wait for the world to see him on the big screen as Michael Jackson.”

Many others see the resemblance as well, with Antoine Fuqua saying, “Michael’s nephew Jaafar is playing him – it’s uncanny how he’s so much like Michael, it’s actually scary.” He added, “There was such a spiritual connection when I first met Jaafar, who has a natural ability to emulate Michael and such a great chemistry with the camera.”

Even Jackson’s own mother, Katherine, agrees with Jaafar taking the part. “Jaafar embodies my son. It’s so wonderful to see him carry on the Jackson legacy of entertainers and performers,” she said.

It’s already spurring controversy

While still in production, the biopic is already causing quite a bit of controversy. The film has been described as an honest portrayal of Jackson’s life, looking at both his musical talent and global influence, and the struggled he went through in his personal life. However, Dan Reed, director of Leaving Neverland, says differently.

As previously mentions, producer Graham King and screenwriter John Logan have already said they will not skirt around the abuse allegations Jackson dealt with in the film, especially considering the how criminal trial was a very public affair. However, Reed got his hands on a copy of the screenplay and believes that the way in which they present this point in the icon’s life is extremely biased. He says it shows Jackson’s interactions with children in a positive light and that he’s not buying one second of it. 

More from us: ‘Friends’ Writer Reveals Negative Environment On Set, Says Job Was ‘No Dream’

As the film continues to be produced, we’re sure it will only cause even more controversy in the coming months.

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!