Joseph Fiennes is defending himself and his acting career in the wake of controversy after being cast as Michael Jackson in an upcoming half-hour TV special, acknowledging the topic is “sensitive” but never intending it to be divisive.

The white actor will play MJ in the upcoming Sky Arts comedy Elizabeth, Michael, and Marlon, which tells the story of a road trip taken by Jackson, Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor inj their adventure leaving New York City after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

“I deal in imagination, so I don’t think imagination should have rules stamped on them,”

Fiennes told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “If it promotes stereotyping, then it’s wrong. I made a distinction that the Jackson project doesn’t do that.”

The casting of Fiennes comes as controversy rages over the lack of diversity in the Oscar nominations and in the film industry at large. The actor admitted to being initially surprised by the colorblind casting. “It was a shock. I thought someone had got it wrong.”

 

 

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