Though some were enthusiastic about the news, many argued that it was outrageous that a white actor would play the King of Pop.
But nobody was more surprised than Fiennes, who was stunned to learn that he landed the role.
"I'm a white, middle-class guy from London," he told Entertainment Tonight. "I'm as shocked as you may be."
Fiennes, 45, will play the late Jackson in the upcoming movie "Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon," which will broadcast in the UK. The film focuses on a 2011 Vanity Fair story about Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor and Jackson renting a car together in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001 and taking a road trip. According to reports, Stockard Channing has been cast as Taylor and Brian Cox will play Brando.
"It's kind of off the wall, but the writing is a delight, and the kind of interaction between the three of them is funny, and also full of pathos," Fiennes told ET of the film. "It's people who are so iconic, but also can be detached. You know, you can get detached from society. So it's examining that kind of wonderful and mad detachment."
"It's a light comedy look," he added. "It's not in any way malicious. It's actually endearing."
According to an article from the Associated Press, Sky Arts, the channel behind the film, confirmed the casting in a statement and added that it will air later this year. The statement also addressed the diversity controversy.
"We believe in giving producers the creative freedom to cast roles as they wish, within the diversity framework which we have set," the statement said.