Director Antoine Fuqua is ready to get rolling on his Michael Jackson biopic when the Hollywood strikes end so the world can see Jaafar Jackson's "uncanny" portrayal of the King of Pop. Lionsgate, the studio behind the project, announced in January that Michael's 27-year-old nephew had been cast as the titular role in what will be his acting debut.
"We're in prep except for the strike," Fuqua teased to Yahoo Entertainment while promoting his new film, Equalizer 3. "Michael was supposed to start shooting this year. "Michael's nephew Jaafar is playing him — it's uncanny how he's so much like Michael, it's actually scary."
One of Jermaine Jackson's seven kids, Jafar released a single, "Got Me Singing," in 2019 so it seems likely he'll be singing in the film.
As for what fans can expect from Michael, the acclaimed director (Training Day, Emancipation) added: "We're just going to tell the facts as we know it, the good bad and the ugly." Lionsgate has also said the biopic will "address all aspects of Jackson's life."
The musical genius of Michael Jackson is undisputed and will no doubt be a main focus of the film, but his personal life was marred by child sex-abuse allegations. The pop icon denied the claims, and in 2005, was acquitted of all criminal related to the alleged abuse of a 13-year-old boy. Earlier this month, a California appeals court revived civil lawsuits from two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who allege the "Thriller" singer sexually abused them for years when they were boys. Robson and Safechuck participated in HBO's controversial 2019 documentary Leaving Neverland.
Michael is set to be written by John Logan, who penned films like Skyfall, Gladiator and The Aviator. The movie will be produced in coordination with Jackson's estate, with co-executors John Branca and John McClain listed as producers. They've repeatedly denied Robson and Safechuck's claims, so it will be interesting to see how the topic is handled onscreen.
Michael died in 2009 after suffering cardiac arrest at his home. Tuesday would have been his 65th birthday. The singer's sons, Bigi (formerly known as Blanket), 21, and Prince, 26, made a rare public appearance together in Las Vegas to mark the occasion as they attended the 10th anniversary of Michael Jackson One. Paris Jackson revealed on Instagram her famous father actually hated "anybody acknowledging" or "celebrating" his birthday as she slammed superfans who criticized her for not posting her dad on social media.
It's unclear what the Jackson children think of the upcoming film. After his casting was announced, Jaafar shared a post on social media and said he's "humbled and honored to bring my Uncle Michael's story to life."