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See Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson in first Urban Myths trailer

Updated

Sky Arts has posted a first look at an upcoming comedy starring Joseph Fiennes as pop star Michael Jackson — a casting decision that caused controversy when it was announced last year.

The Shakespeare in Love actor joins Stockard Channing as Elizabeth Taylor and Brian Cox as Marlon Brando in a half-hour installment of Urban Myths, an eight-part series recreating rumored tales about celebrities. Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon details the time the three stars supposedly shared a car when they were leaving New York after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In a new teaser for Urban Myths, the three mega stars are pulled over by a stunned police officer. “I sensed danger!” Jackson says as Taylor drives. “You always had such keen senses, Michael,” she replies. Cox’s Brando unleashes his deadpan from the back seat: “Like when he sensed Prince was trying to kill his monkey through dreams.”

In discussing the project last year, Fiennes, who is white, conceded that his playing the late African-American musician could be problematic. “This is territory that is sensitive,” he told the Associated Press. “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.”

“I deal in imagination, so I don’t think imagination should have rules stamped on them,” he continued. “If it promotes stereotyping, then it’s wrong. I made a distinction that the Jackson project doesn’t do that.”

The trailer also features more scenes from Urban Myths that feature Iwan Rheon (Game of Thrones‘ Ramsay Bolton) playing Adolf Hitler, Rupert Grint as his friend, Ben Chaplin as Cary Grant, Aidan Gillen as Dr. Timothy Leary, Eddie Marsan as Bob Dylan, and David Threlfall as writer Samuel Beckett.

See the teaser above. Urban Myths begins airing Jan. 19 on Sky Arts.

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