The late pop singer Michael Jackson will be portrayed by his 26-year-old nephew, Jaafar Jackson, in the biographical movie “Michael," the Lionsgate studio said on Monday.
"Michael" will explore “the complicated man who became the King of Pop,” Lionsgate said in a statement. The film will include "all aspects" of his life and his most noteworthy performances that set him on the path to becoming an icon in the musical world," it said.
Production will start this year and the film will be directed by Antoine Fuqua and produced by Graham King, who both said that Jaafar Jackson had a natural ability to emulate his uncle and bring him to life.
“It was clear that he is the only person to take on this role,” King said in a news release, adding that he "cannot wait for the world to see him on the big screen as Michael Jackson.”
Lionsgate did not directly address one of the most controversial aspects of Jackson's story - his trial on child sex abuse charges in 2005 and additional allegations against the singer featured in the 2019 documentary, “Leaving Neverland.”
In 2005, Jackson was acquitted by a California jury in the sex abuse case involving a 13-year-old boy.
The 2019 documentary followed the accounts of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who claimed they were befriended by Jackson and were abused by him from ages 7 and 10, respectively, in the early 1990s.
In 2020, a California appeals court ruled that the two men could pursue their claims through a lawsuit. The Jackson family denied those accusations and the Michael Jackson estate won its appeal that year.
Jackson was a child star with his family's pop group the Jackson 5 and went on to a solo career that made him one of the most famous people on the planet before his death in 2009 at the age of 50.
His hits include the 1982 "Thriller" album which featured the title song as well as "Billie Jean."
Jaafar Jackson is the son of Michael Jackson’s older brother, Jermaine Jackson, who is also a singer and producer.
“Jaafar embodies my son," said Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine Jackson, in the news release. "It’s so wonderful to see him carry on the Jackson legacy of entertainers and performers.”