The biopic will star Michael Jackson's nephew Jaafar as the King of Pop
The story of Michael Jackson’s life and career is being adapted for the big screen.
Since then, more details have been announced about the project, including the actor playing the titular role. Stepping into the iconic shoes of the musician is Jackson’s own nephew Jaafar Jackson, who is the son of Michael's brother Jermaine Jackson.
The film comes on the heels of the success of Broadway‘s MJ: The Musical, which chronicles the "Bad" singer’s creative process, focusing on his preparation for his 1992 Dangerous World Tour. The show, which scored four Tony Awards in 2022, premiered in Februray 2022 with Myles Frost and kicked off its first national tour in August 2023 with Roman Wellington Banks.
From the release date to the cast, here’s everything to know about Michael.
Who is in the cast of the Michael Jackson biopic?
Jackson’s 27-year-old nephew Jaafar is set to play him in the new movie. "It's incredibly exciting to watch Jaafar bring Michael to life," director Antoine Fuqua said in a statement to Variety. "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."
Jaafar was selected for the role after a worldwide casting search was conducted, of which producer Graham King said, "It was clear that he is the only person to take on this role."
In January 2024, Lionsgate announced that 9-year-old Juliano Krue Valdi had been cast to portray a young Jackson, since the film covers his rise to fame with his brothers in the Jackson 5.
Towards the end of the month, it was announced that Oscar-nominated, Rustin actor Colman Domingo was cast as Jackson family patriarch Joe Jackson. Producer King said the actor "has such incredible range" and is "grateful to be working" with him on the project.
Playing the Jackson matriarch Katherine Jackson will be Nia Long, who called her character "an incredible pillar of strength and grace for the entire Jackson family." She added, "As a mother, she was selfless and endured forces beyond her control yet still managed to help build a legacy beyond measure. I am honored to bring her voice to the screen and share Michael Jackson’s story with audiences everywhere.”
Rounding out the rest of the Jackson 5 group will be Jayden Harville and Jamal R. Henderson as Jermaine, Jaylen Lyndon Hunter and Tre Horton as Marlon, Judah Edwards and Rhyan Hill as Tito and Nathaniel Logan McIntyre and Joseph David-Jones as Jackie.
Miles Teller is also set to play John Branca, who became Michael's manager after Joe Jackson, and was instrumental in helping launch his early career as a solo artist — notably with the release of "Thriller."
What will the Michael Jackson biopic be about?
According to the film’s official synopsis, “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,” the statement continues. “As never before, audiences will experience an inside look into one of the most influential, trailblazing artists the world has ever known.”
The biographical movie is set to cover all aspects of the singer’s life, however, it is currently unknown whether the film will address Jackson's controversies including allegations of child sex abuse levied against Jackson that were most recently publicly detailed in the 2019 documentary film Leaving Neverland.
Who is directing the Michael Jackson biopic?
The film will be helmed by Antoine Fuqua, who is best known for directing The Equalizer trilogy, Southpaw, Emancipation and several critically acclaimed documentaries such as What's My Name: Muhammad Ali and Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers.
“The first films of my career were music videos, and I still feel that combining film and music are a deep part of who I am,” said Fuqua in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “For me, there is no artist with the power, the charisma, and the sheer musical genius of Michael Jackson. I was influenced to make music videos by watching his work — the first Black artist to play in heavy rotation on MTV. His music and those images are part of my worldview, and the chance to tell his story on the screen alongside his music was irresistible.”
The film will be written by Oscar nominee and Tony winner John Logan and produced by Graham King, who previously worked on the Oscar-winning Bohemian Rhapsody. King will producing along with John Branca and John McClain, who are the co-executors of the Michael Jackson estate.
What has Michael Jackson’s family said about the Michael Jackson biopic?
In addition to having Jackson’s estate involved as producers, the movie has already gotten the seal of approval from those closest to the singer, including his mother Katherine, who said that Jaafar "embodies" her son.
"It's so wonderful to see him carry on the Jackson legacy of entertainers and performers," she told The Hollywood Reporter.
When did filming begin for the Michael Jackson biopic?
According to a press release shared by Lionsgate on Jan. 18, 2024, filming for principal photography began the week of Jan. 22.
When will the Michael Jackson biopic be released?
The film will be released worldwide on April 18, 2025.
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