While Michael Jackson is rightfully remembered as the King Of Pop, it turns out that the legendary performer actually had his eyes set on finding success way beyond music.
That’s because, despite finding tremendous success with the likes of Thriller, Bad, and numerous other albums and singles, Michael Jackson repeatedly put himself forward for a number of roles, only a handful of which he got. Of course, Michael Jackson did find some success with the likes of Moonwalker and The Wiz.
But he had his sights on even bigger roles, which it now turns out included X-Men’s Professor X. This revelation was made by David Hayter, the screenwriter behind the first X-Men film, which kick-started the franchise back in 2000, during his recent discussion with The Hollywood Reporter.
It wasn’t just Michael Jackson that was gunning for a role in the first X-Men film, as David Hayter also explained that the likes of Terence Stamp, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, and Viggo Mortensen almost played key roles. While even Shaquille O’Neal was intent on a role, too.
“I was writing it for the comic book characters. I was brought on as they were casting, so I was lucky enough to be there for some of the people who came in like Terence Stamp for Xavier and Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey for Storm. Michael Jackson came in because he wanted to play Professor X. It was amazing. Shaq came in. Viggo Mortensen came in. I really liked Viggo for Wolverine, but it didn’t come together for whatever reason. Angela Bassett was our first choice for Storm, but her agents wanted more money than we had at the time. Same with Rachael Leigh Cook for Rogue… Glenn Danzig came in for Wolverine, because he’s a Wolverine fanatic. And because I was answering phones right at the front, people would come right through where my office was.”
While the above list of actors might have made X-Men a little different, it’s impossible to imagine the film with either Michael Jackson as Professor X or Shaquille O’Neal in roles. The latter’s interest provoked further questioning regarding who Shaquille O’Neal was interested in portraying, which David Hayter was only happy to provide details on, including why he was passed over.
“He’s got the big M scar over his face [Bishop, later played by Omar Sy in 2014’s Days of Future Past]. Because I didn’t know the character, it didn’t end up in the script. But I did walk past an office one day and there he was and much larger than life.”
It wasn’t just the role of Professor X that went under numerous guises. In fact, David Hayter admitted that when he started to work on X-Men the concept art for the film envisioned none other than Mel Gibson in the part.
“It was originally supposed to be Mel Gibson. Back when I got hired all of our concept art was Mel Gibson.”
This isn’t the first story of Michael Jackson coveting an iconic film role that ultimately went to someone else. That’s because Michael Jackson also fought tooth and nail to play Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, too. But only if he could do so in prosthetics.
This revelation was made by Ahmed Best, who ultimately went on to voice Jar Jar Binks, to Vice, with the actor recalling how George Lucas was rather brutal in how he showed Jackson that Best had been cast ahead of him.
“Me, Natalie Portman and George [Lucas]’s kids – we were at Wembley arena at Michael Jackson’s concert. We were taken backstage, and we met Michael. There was Michael and Lisa Marie [Presley]. George introduced me as ‘Jar Jar,’ and I was like, ‘That’s kind of weird.’ Michael was like, ‘Oh. OK.’ I thought, ‘What is going on? After Michael had driven off, we all go back up to a big after-party. I’m having a drink with George, and I said, ‘Why did you introduce me as Jar Jar?’ He said, ‘Well, Michael wanted to do the part, but he wanted to do it in prosthetics and makeup like Thriller. George wanted to do it in CGI. My guess is ultimately Michael Jackson would have been bigger than the movie, and I don’t think he wanted that.”
[Featured Image by Getty Images]