The late pop star reportedly screened his Ghosts short for the film’s director as an audition.
Throughout his career, Michael Jackson shapeshifted into a number of roles both on and off-screen. But according to a recent 20-year retrospective on the pivotal live-action X-Men film, the late pop star had ambitions of leading the Children of The Atom in Bryan Singer’s big-screen adaptation.
In a piece from The Hollywood Reporter, the film’s producers recalled a traumatic and volatile development period, in which Jackson threw his hat into the casting pool for none other than Professor Charles Xavier, the bald and white paraplegic psychic at the reigns of the mutant team. X-Men producer, Lauren Shuler, recounts how Jackson met with Singer to discuss the role. When asked whether he understood that the crew’s leader had a well-established aesthetic that needed to be matched, Jackson simply stated, “Oh yeah. You know, I can wear makeup.” From there, Jackson pitched the producers with a screening of his 1996 short film, Ghosts, in which he portrayed a disgruntled elderly white man. But the performer’s willingness to undergo a drastic cosmetic overhaul wasn’t enough for the studio to take his bid seriously. Eventually, Patrick Stewart was cast for the part, solidifying a post-Star Trek chapter for the aging actor, who would go on to star in six extensions of the franchise.
Two decades down the line, it’s clear X-Men never actually needed the supplemental star power. Across a range of sequels, prequels, and offshoots, the franchise brought in over $6 billion at the box office. And there’s plenty more on the way. Long-delayed, The New Mutants, was given its third or fourth release date in as many years at San Diego Comic-Con 2020. It’s slated to land in theaters on August 28th (if those still exist by then.)