During an interview with Oprah Winfrey back in 1993, Michael Jackson denied a story reporting that he wanted a white actor to play him in a Pepsi commercial. Now, Jackson's explanation for why he would object to that casting has taken on new relevance, given the revelation that white actor Joseph Fiennes is portraying the pop star in a British television project. With the casting choice becoming a subject of outrage, Jackson's defiant response is now making the rounds. "That is so stupid. That's the most ridiculous horrifying story I've ever heard," he told Oprah. "It's crazy. Why? Number one, it's my face as a child in the commercial. Me, when I was little. Why would I want a white child to play me? I'm a Black American. I'm proud to be a Black American. I'm proud of my race. I'm proud of who I am. I have a lot of pride in who I am and dignity."
Oprah questioned Jackson further: "Is your skin lighter because you don't like being Black?" Jackson said he had a "skin disorder that destroys the pigmentation of the skin." The pop star added, "When people make up stories that I don't want to be who I am, it hurts me." Fiennes is set to portray Jackson in a half-hour comedy for Sky Arts called Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon, which dramatizes an apocryphal road trip that Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marlon Brando allegedly took after 9/11. Though news of Fiennes' casting began circulating this week, Steven Thrasher at The Guardian pointed out that the project is already in post-production. As Thrasher reported, "According to the British production cable channel Sky Arts, the casting is a done deal, as the half-hour comedy was shot last year." Fiennes told Entertainment Tonight that he was "shocked" by the casting, but also added that Jackson "was probably closer to my color than his original color." The show also stars Stockard Channing as Taylor and Brian Cox as Brando.