Michael Jackson

  1. David Bowie, Labyrinth, 1985.    For (alas) his final film as a director, Muppeteer-in-Chief Jim Henson wanted a rock star as the Goblin King Jareth, ruler of the mystical world that, as Chicago critic Roger Ebert put it, was just out of sight of ordinary eyes… Exec producer George Lucas wanted  Jackson –  a nose ahead of Mick Jagger and Prince. Henson looked over Kevin Kline, Simon MacCorkindale (TV’s Manimal) – and. fancied Sting (after Dune?!). However,  the  Henson kids said Bowie, Bowie, Bowie, Bowie, Bowie!  (There were five kids). The thin, white Major Tom fell for the entire dreamworld concept. (And his kids are now running the combine). Wanting a kids’ yarn, Bowie loved  the script, funnier than he’d expected.  Well, the humour of Terry Jones of the Monty Pythons was on certain pages.
  2. Robin Williams, Hook, 1990.     Also on his pal Steven Spielberg’s (very) short list (with Tom Hanks) for his updated Peter Pan – when Kevin Kline was trapped in the major re-vamping of Soapdish. (Didn’t help).
  3. Brandon Lee, The Crow, 1993.      The comic book’s creator James O’Barr had a laughing fit when suits explained they planned a musical Crow with Jackson! O’Barr thought they were joshing. They were not. Director Alex Proyas looked for his titular Eric Draven among Lee, Johnny Depp, River Phoenix, Christian Slater. Lee won – and died in a terrible accident with a gun shooting blanks during the hero’s murder on March 31, 1993.
  4. Scott Bakula, Cats Don’t Dance, 1996.   The King of Pop replaced by Mr. Quantum Leap. That takes some explaining… Quite simple really. Jackson’s plans to co-produce, star, choreograph and score the toon about old time Hollywood for his Lost Boys combine just never happened. The project became the one and only Turner Feature Animation movie. (Ted sold all his companies to Time Warner). And so Bakula voiced the song and dance cat trying to make it in Hollywood… with toon flashes of Bette Davis, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Laurel & Hardy and Shirley Tem… no, Darla Dimple!
  5. Wesley Snipes, Blade, 1997.       Scenarist David S Goyer wanted Snipes and no one else. The studio execs were screaming: Denzel Washington, Laurence Fishburne, even rapper J. Snipes was already in Marvel talks for playing Black Panther and one superhero led to another. He was effective, said Chicago critic Roger Ebert, because he understood the key ingredient in any interesting superhero is vulnerability, not omnipotence. Panther became Chadwick Boseman in the 18th film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2017.
  6. Larenz Tate, Why Do Fools Fall In Love, 1998.     Jackson refused  the lead role  in the biopic of singer and heroin addict Frankie Lyman. With Jackson, the film would have generated guffaws as the horny Lyman  lives, lays and lies with  three “wives.”
  7. Will Smith, Men in Black II, 2001. When there were a few doubts about Smith (or Tommy Lee Jones) returning for the sequel, Jackson pushed hard to play Jay.
  8. Robert Downey Jr, Iron Man, 2007. Jackson didn’t have as much clout in the film business as he did in the music biz… but he really wanted to be Tony Stark, aka you-know-who.   During the 17-year gestation, Jackman, Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, Timothy Olyphant, Clive Owen and Sam Rockwell were run up the Marvel flagpole. But director Jon Favreau only wanted Downey. “The best and worst moments of Robert’s life have been in the public eye. He had to find an inner balance to overcome obstacles that went far beyond his career. That’s Tony Stark.”
  9. Tom Sturridge, The Sandman, TV, 2022.   But way back in 1996, Sandman creator Neil Gaiman was told by the Warner Bos boss that Michael Jackson had asked him for the lead role of  Morpheusm aka Dream. “So, there was a lot of interest in this, and they knew that it was one of the Crown Jewels and what did I think?”  Not much, said most reports of Gaiman’s “sound and cringe” when telling all on the Happy Sad Confused podcast.  PS from Tim Burtyon in Lyon, France, 2022: “I have worked for several months on things that got rejected…(like) a musical version of the slasher movie, House of Wax.  with Michael Jackson. They said ‘No’. Can you believe that?



 Birth year: 1958Death year: 2009Other name: Usual occupation: SingerCasting Calls:  9