Cameras roll on Jackson TV movie19/05/2004 - 07:01:22
The question is as plain as the nose on his face. Why would anyone want to play Michael Jackson?
True, there are few roles as enigmatic and challenging as that of the pop icon-turned-alleged child molester, but there are also few as controversial and potentially career-damaging.
On the Calgary set of Man In The Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story – a TV biopic set to air in the US and Canada this summer – the task of portraying the King of Pop falls to Flex Alexander.
The actor, who stars in the sitcom One on One, admits he didn’t leap – or moonwalk, for that matter – at the chance to play Jackson.
“At first I laughed when I heard about it,” he admits, decked out in full Jackson regalia.
He wasn’t alone. When director Allan Moyle (Pump Up The Volume, New Waterford Girl) first heard about the project, he didn’t bother reading it.
“I figured it would be all guts and gore.”
Eventually Moyle relented and was “pleasantly surprised”, he says.
Instead, both Alexander and Moyle promise a balanced, even sympathetic, portrait of Jackson. “We’re giving him a fair portrayal,” Alexander says.
“It’s a controversial role only from the media, which has been crucifying him. They’ve already judged him like he was already convicted.”
So instead of delving into bizarre reports – sleeping in an oxygen tank or buying the elephant man’s bones – viewers should expect a movie that adheres strictly to documented facts.
A co-production between Calgary-based Nomadic Pictures and Los Angeles-based production company Blueprint Entertainment, Man In The Mirror begins when Jackson is 10 and follows “slices of his life” to the present day, Moyle explains.
That includes Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, for which the Calgary Zoo was doubling this week, more than halfway through the 18-day shoot.
Persuading audiences of that is only one of the hurdles Alexander – who admits “it still hasn’t hit me that I’m playing Michael Jackson” – has to overcome. Another is enduring the extensive make-up that takes Jackson through three phases: his Thriller days, the mid-’90s when he was with Presley and, lastly, the chalk-skinned Jackson people see now.
But Alexander says it’s the pop star’s voice – not his face – that has been the hardest quality to replicate.
“People think it’s just talking at a high pitch, but he doesn’t have a range. Sometimes the tone is deeper. That’s been the toughest part.”
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