Michael Jackson’s 26-year-old nephew has confirmed he will portray the singer in a new big-screen biopic.
Jaafar Jackson’s performance in the film, titled simply Michael, will mark his first major film role.
Announcing the news on social media, the young actor said he was “humbled and honoured” to have been cast.
Jaafar is the second-youngest son of songwriter and Jackson 5 member Jermaine Jackson, Michael’s older brother.
Michael will become the latest in a string of big-screen musical biopics, following the release of movies which have charted the careers of Whitney Houston, Elvis Presley, Queen and Elton John.
‘Jaafar embodies my son’
The film is being made with the cooperation of the Michael Jackson estate. It is unclear whether or not it will reference allegations of child sexual abuse which were made against Jackson during his life and after his death.
Jackson always maintained his innocence, and was found not guilty of child molestation in 2005.
Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine Jackson, said: “Jaafar embodies my son. It’s so wonderful to see him carry on the Jackson legacy of entertainers and performers.”
Antoine Fuqua, who helmed Training Day and Emancipation, Will Smith’s recent film for Apple, will direct the biopic.
Michael Jackson is one of the most well-known singers in music history, from shooting to fame with his family band the Jackson 5 to becoming one of the most successful artists of all time.
His most popular solo singles include Billie Jean, Smooth Criminal, Beat It, Bad and Rock With You, while Thriller remains the best-selling album ever.
Fuqua said Michael “explores the journey of the man who became the King of Pop”, while the film’s studio, Lionsgate, said it would include “his most iconic performances that led him to become the greatest entertainer of all time”.
One of the producers of the new film is Graham King, who also produced the Oscar-winning Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.
King said the team behind the film had searched widely for an actor to play Jackson, before ultimately settling on Jaafar.
“I met Jaafar over two years ago and was blown away by the way he organically personifies the spirit and personality of Michael,” King said.
“It was something so powerful that even after conducting a worldwide search, it was clear that he is the only person to take on this role.”
The screenplay for Michael will be written by John Logan, who also wrote Gladiator, The Aviator and the James Bond films Skyfall and Spectre.