With this year marking the 20th anniversary of the first ‘X-Men’ film, more and more behind-the-scenes info is surfacing. One of the more amusing kernels that has been revealed concerns the famous people who lobbied for roles in the movie. A couple of weeks ago, producer Ralph Winter recalled that basketball player Shaquille O’Neal wanted to play Native American mutant Forge, who was not in the movie, and pop hitmaker Mariah Carey wanted to play the Black African Storm. But perhaps the wildest revelation is that the King of Pop, Michael Jackson wanted to play Charles Xavier!
Lauren Schuler Donner, who also produced ‘X-Men’, recalled Jackson coming to the 20th Century Fox office with a presentation, to pitch himself. He wore sunglasses and would not shake hands. (He was known to be a germaphobe, often wearing a face mask in public and sleeping in a hypobaric chamber.) Donner stated:
“I said to him, ‘Do you know Xavier is an older white guy?’ And Michael said, ‘Oh yeah. You know, I can wear makeup.’ “
As part of Jackson’s presentation, he showed the producers and director Bryan Singer his short film ‘Ghosts’ in which he portrayed an older white character, the Mayor, a comical villain. You can see Jackson as the Mayor below:
Of course, the role went to the fan-favorite, Patrick Stewart, in what was possibly the best casting of the entire franchise.
Unfortunately, even though Jackson, who died unexpectedly in 2009, was one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, his reputation was sullied by accusations of sexual molestation of underage children, starting in 1993 and continuing beyond his death. Just last year, HBO aired the two-part documentary ‘Leaving Neverland’ in which two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, recalled instances of alleged abuse when they were children.
At the time of ‘X-Men’s production, as one former executive stated:
“Michael was already in the thick of all his allegations by X-Men.”
Unfortunately, that was not the last time that individuals connected to ‘X-Men’ would be connected to pedophilia, but that’s another story…
In the meantime, if you’d like to check out Jackson in the role of the Mayor, you can find the ‘Ghost’ short film below:
Source: The Hollywood Reporter