The first look at Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson in the controversial “Urban Myths” comedy has the pop icon’s family livid.
The trailer for the British show, released Wednesday, shows Fiennes on a road trip from New York to Ohio after the 9/11 attacks with Elizabeth Taylor (Stockard Channing) and Marlon Brando (Brian Cox).
Paris Jackson, the “Billie Jean” singer’s 18-year-old daughter, said that she’s “so incredibly offended” by the “Urban Myths” trailer and Fiennes’ appearance.
“It honestly makes me want to vomit,” she tweeted.
Michael Jackson’s family is lashing out against “blatant disrespect” of Joseph Fiennes’ appearance as the “Smooth Criminal” singer in “Urban Myths.”
(Sky Arts via YouTube)
“It angers me to see how obviously intentional it was for them to be this insulting, not just towards my father, but my godmother (Elizabeth Taylor) as well. Where is the respect? They worked through blood, sweat and tears for ages to create such profound and remarkable legacies. Shameful portrayal.”
The original casting of the white actor was met with backlash when it was announced.
A petition set up after the initial announcement has more than 20,000 signatures of people promising to boycott the show, originally called “Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon.”
“It’s easy to see why the story would make a compelling film — but it’s harder to understand why the actor best known for his role in Shakespeare in Love was the first choice to play one of the world’s most iconic black musicians,” reads the petition.
“It’s bad enough when actors of color are denied opportunities to play fictional characters of their own ethnicity due to the preferential treatment of white actors. But it’s absolutely inexcusable for a film to whitewash a movie based on an actual human being, whether his appearance was typical of what we expect a black man to look like or not.”
Taj Jackson, the singer’s nephew, echoed those sentiments.
Fiennes faced accusations of whitewashing after his casting was announced last year.
“Unfortunately this is what my family has to deal with,” he tweeted. “No words could express the blatant disrespect.”
Fiennes has previously defended his casting amid accusations of whitewashing.
“This is territory that is sensitive,” he told the Associated Press in February. “One must determine if this portrayal is one that is going to be positive entertainment, and one that will not bring about division and put anyone’s noses out of joint, so I went with the mind that this was a positive light-hearted comedy.”
The first episode of “Urban Myths” premieres on Jan. 19 on Sky Arts.
Other episodes in the comedy series include Cary Grant (Ben Chaplin) tripping on LSD with Timothy Leary (Aidan Gillen), a young Adolf Hitler (“Game of Thrones” actor Iwan Rheon) and his friend (Rupert Grint) and Bob Dylan (Eddie Marsan) looking for a man named Dave.