Michael Jackson’s life story is getting the biopic treatment from the people behind Bohemian Rhapsody and will soon be heading to cinemas, with filmmaker Antoine Fuqua’s Michael setting its sights on a spring 2025 release.
The life and times of the controversial King of Pop have been largely covered in the mainstream media already, with Jackson’s intense child stardom, multiple mega-hits, rise to musical icon status and troubling personal issues being covered in a range of different media outlets — some with a positive tilt, others with downright damning agendas.
However, Fuqua’s upcoming movie Michael aims to take a level-headed look at the complicated man behind the music, lining up someone with direct links to Jackson to play the leading role.
Here’s everything we know about it so far.
When will the Michael Jackson biopic be released?
Fuqua’s Michael Jackson biopic Michael officially began production in January 2024 with an American theatrical release set for Friday, 18 April, 2025. It’s currently unclear whether the movie will receive a similar release in the United Kingdom.
In a statement accompanying this news, Fuqua said: “I’m so honoured to tell Michael’s story. It’s been a long journey and I’m excited for the film to show audiences around the world a perspective of Michael that they’ve never seen.”
Fuqua has previously directed films like Training Day and The Equalizer, both with Denzel Washington.
Who is starring in the Michael Jackson biopic?
Jackson’s 27-year-old nephew Jaafar Jackson will be stepping into his uncle’s moonwalking shoes to bring us his life story, from youth to adulthood.
Speaking about the casting, Fuqua explained that he was blown away by just how many similarities Jaafar shares with his famous relative. “It’s uncanny how much he’s like Michael… Sounds like him, dances like him, sings. It’s really uncanny,” the director told Entertainment Weekly. “Graham King, who is a fantastic producer, found him, and introduced him to me, and I was blown away.”
Jaafar is the son of Michael’s sibling and Jackson 5 bandmate, Jermaine Jackson, and has been dancing and performing since he was 12 years old.
Joining Jaafar will be nine-year-old newcomer Juliano Krue Valdi who will portray Jackson as a child, taking viewers through his jump to stardom via the Jackson 5.
“When Michael was very young – eleven years old – he astounded the world, possessing the spirit and talent of an adult. He was truly an old soul. He and Juliano have that in common,” said King, the movie's producer.
“Beyond being a phenomenal young talent, Juliano is deeply inspired by Michael and his music, and has managed to translate that inspiration into a presence and performance that captures the true magic of young Michael Jackson.”
Speaking about the casting, Fuqua explained: “If anything, casting the role of the young Michael was more difficult than casting the adult role, because where do you find a child actor with the chops of the greatest entertainer who ever lived? In the end, that was our focus – talent – and we looked far and wide for an actor who could embody Michael’s spirit through his voice, his charisma, and his dance skills. Juliano’s undeniable, raw talent put him at the top of our list.”
Oscar-nominated Rustin star Colman Domingo will take on the role of Michael's controversial father Joe Jackson. Over the years, much has been written about how Joe's harsh and allegedly physically violent temperament affected both Michael's career and personal life.
"I’m excited to be a part of a film that explores both the complicated soul of the legendary Michael Jackson as well as his impact on music and culture as a global icon," explained Domingo on joining Fuqua's film.
"Not only am I fortunate to have a rich, complex and flawed character to portray in Joe Jackson, but I also have a front row seat for Jaafar’s incredible transformation. After seeing him in rehearsal, my mind was blown. There is something divine about the way that Jaafar is channeling his late uncle. His talent and embodiment of Michael’s essence is simply on another level."
Known for her roles in Boyz n the Hood and more recently Netflix comedy You People, actor Nia Long also joins Fuqua's project as Michael's mother Katherine Jackson.
“Nia has delivered iconic performances throughout her career,” said Fuqua, announcing the news. “I’ve been a fan for a long time because her characters stay with you. I’m excited to now work alongside her as she pours all of that into Katherine Jackson: a woman who was the glue, the rock, and the heart of the Jackson family during its best and its most turbulent times.”
Nia also commented on stepping into the shoes of this important figure in Michael's life. “Katherine Jackson is an incredible pillar of strength and grace for the entire Jackson family,” said Long. “As a mother, she was selfless and endured forces beyond her control yet still managed to help build a legacy beyond measure.”
What is the plot of the Michael Jackson biopic?
Jackson’s life in the public eye has already been covered in extensive detail, with tabloids, documentaries and TV programmes focusing on both his stardom and immense contribution to music alongside some of the more questionable areas of Jackson’s alleged personal affairs and out-there lifestyle.
Fuqua’s movie is being made with the help of Graham King, the same guy who produced Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody biopic, and co-executors of the Michael Jackson estate are included among its list of producers.
According to reports, Michael will focus on “the complicated man who becomes the King of Pop, from triumphs to tragedies, from his human side and personal struggles to his creative genius” — but don’t expect it to shy away from the more headline-grabbing side of Jackson’s life.
According to the director, his film will chronicle Jackson’s life and career “as we know it” and will touch upon “the good, bad and the ugly” moments that he encountered whilst in the public eye. “Just to tell the facts as we know it,” explains Fuqua, “about the artist, about the man, about the human being.”
Is there a trailer for the Michael Jackson biopic?
There’s no trailer available for Michael just yet.
Michael will be released in American cinemas on Friday, 18 April, 2025.