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Andrew Lloyd Webber Reveals Michael Jackson Wanted to Play the Phantom of the Opera — Here’s Why He Didn’t

Michael Jackson wanted to star in the film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'The Phantom of the Opera,' a musical Jackson saw several times. Jackson and Lloyd Webber became acquainted because they liked the work of the same musician. The film version of the musical was a success.

Michael Jackson’s music is very different from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s, but that didn’t stop Jackson from wanting to star in the movie The Phantom of the Opera. Lloyd Webber revealed whether he thought the King of Pop would have been a good Erik. In addition, he said he became acquainted with Jackson because they were both fans of the same musician.

Anthony Warlow as the Phantom of the Opera putting his arms around Ana Marina as Christine Daaé
Anthony Warlow as the Phantom of the Opera and Ana Marina as Christine Daaé | Simon Fergusson/Getty Images

Andrew Lloyd Webber reveals how Michael Jackson reacted to ‘The Phantom of the Opera’

Many famous theater actors like Ramin Karimloo and Michael Crawford have played the Phantom of the Opera on the stage. On the other hand, relatively few top 40 artists performed the role. Despite this, Lloyd Webber told Rolling Stone the King of Pop wanted to play Erik in the film adaptation of the musical. 

“My book finishes with the opening of Phantom of the Opera, but Michael was very keen to be involved in a movie version of Phantom of the Opera,” Lloyd Webber recalled. “At the time, the show had just gone to Broadway, and he must have seen it three or four times at least. I was with him a couple of times.”

How Andrew Lloyd Webber came to know Michael Jackson ‘a little bit’

Lloyd Webber felt Jackson would have been great in the role. “It would have been incredible, but we weren’t ready,” he said. Lloyd Webber specified that he and his team weren’t ready to bring The Phantom of the Opera to the silver screen. “Phantom was only in its first year on Broadway,” he noted.

Lloyd Webber said he became acquainted with Jackson because they enjoyed music by the same singer. “But I knew him a little bit later, because he shared my love of A.R. Rahman’s music, and we found ourselves some very obscure part of Long Island listening to a Bollywood concert where A.R. was playing,” Lloyd Webber remembered. “He had a great love of that music. So I knew him a little bit, but I never saw him again.”

The way the world reacted to the movie version of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’

Ultimately, Jackson had nothing to do with the film version of Lloyd Webber’s musical. Gerard Butler starred as Erik in the film instead. While Butler wasn’t as big of a celebrity as the King of Pop, that didn’t stop the film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera from becoming a massive success. 


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According to Box Office Mojo, the film earned $4 million during its opening weekend. The movie made over $51 million in the United States and over $103 million elsewhere, resulting in a combined worldwide gross of over $154 million. In addition, the movie garnered Academy Award nominations for Best Original Song for “Learn to Be Lonely,” Best Art Direction, and Best Cinematography.

Jackson didn’t appear in the film version of The Phantom of the Opera, but audiences still seemed to respond to Butler in the role.