Joseph Fiennes understands that some fans of Michael Jackson will have their reservations about him portraying the King of Pop in a British TV movie.
"I'm a white, middle-class guy from London," Fiennes exclusively told ET of playing the late music icon
. "I'm as shocked as you may be."
The movie, Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon
, will air on Sky Arts and is based on an urban legend that showed up in a May 2011 Vanity Fair article
. Fiennes says it's a "light tongue-and-cheek look" at a story about Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor and Jackson renting a car and taking a road trip together after they were unable to catch a flight out of New York City due to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Brian Cox takes on the role Brando and Stockard Channing will portray Taylor.
"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," the 45-year-old actor said of the movie. "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."
While Fiennes acknowledges that he might receive some criticism for playing an African American, he doesn't think his race should come into play. "[Jackson] definitely had an issue -- a pigmentation issue -- and that's something I do believe," the Shakespeare in Love star explained. "He was probably closer to my color than his original color."
He added in defense of the movie, "It's a light comedy look. It's not in any way malicious. It's actually endearing."
Fiennes was a "huge fan" of Jackson when he was a kid, and says he now has a new appreciation for the music legend. "The more I actually looked at Michael," he gushed, "The more I kind of fell in love with him."
ET has reached out to members of the Jackson family for comment on the upcoming TV movie. Meanwhile, Fiennes is busy promoting his upcoming film, Risen, which hits theaters Feb. 19.