Now that the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray has reached its conclusion (he’ll be sentenced on November 29), the estate of Michael Jackson can get back to the business of flooding the market with product to keep the late King of Pop in the collective consciousness forever. The Cirque du Soleil show based on his music is currently on the road, and there are supposedly many more posthumous releases coming from Michael’s vaults.
According to Variety, the next logical piece of the puzzle has started to fall into place; MJ estate executor John Branca has started having conversations with Hollywood types about the prospect of producing a biopic based on Jackson’s life. The project is only at the “discussions” stage at the moment, so it could be years before there is a finished film (or any movement forward at all, really).
The idea of a Michael Jackson biopic raises two immediate questions. The first is: Who will play Michael? And secondly: What stages of Jackson’s life will get covered?
Let’s tackle the last question first. Michael was famous by age six, which means that he lived most of his life in the public eye and thus doesn’t have a whole lot of stories that were left untold. The Jackson 5 era was covered pretty well by the award-winning 1992 mini-series The Jacksons: An American Dream, so a new film would feel like a bit of a rehash.
Most likely, the most fascinating material would come from the stuff that is least likely to depicted on screen, like his child-abuse scandal and late-period money troubles. If they really just want to focus on his career peak, a film about the construction of Thriller would probably be the most entertaining, as it would be the story of Jackson’s ability to distill a diverse number of ’70s sounds into a whole new form that defined the 1980s.
(The alternate-universe version of that film would encircle HIStory, which would tell the tale of a massive superstar stumbling for the first time after a decade-plus run at the pinnacle of pop music.)
As for the actor who should play Jackson, it seems like the only reasonable choice would be to find a newcomer to slip into MJ’s bedazzled gloves. The role is going to carry so much weight that it will be tough for any established actor to come to it baggage-free. Plus, that actor can’t fake it. So you have to have somebody who is willing to shoulder the burden of the character while also being able to sing and dance in a convincing way. Outside of the many impersonators out there, the only person who could possibly pull that off right now is Donald Glover.
But what do you think? Any nominations for who should play Jackson or which one of his career arcs would make for the best film? Don’t keep it in the closet – leave it in the comments!