Michael Jackson Wanted to Play Professor Xavier in ‘X-Men,’ Report Says

The King of Pop as Professor X? It almost happened. Michael Jackson wanted to play the leader of the X-Men in the first big-screen adaptation of the Marvel Comics title, according to a new report. 

Michael Jackson wanted a role in ‘X-Men’ 

Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson | Kevin Mazur/WireImage

RELATED: Will the Michael Jackson Biopic Cover the Pop Star’s Entire Life?

In 1999, production was ramping up on X-Men. Director Bryan Singer and other producers and crew were working in their Los Angeles offices when an unexpected face walked in the door: Michael Jackson. 

The singer had a proposal for Singer. He wanted to play Professor Charles Xavier in the upcoming film. 

“I said to him, ‘Do you know Xavier is an older white guy?’ ” X-Men producer Lauren Shuler Donner told The Hollywood Reporter. “And Michael said, ‘Oh yeah. You know, I can wear makeup.'”

The story of the strange meeting was related in a longer exposé about Singer’s behavior on the set of the superhero film and allegations of sexual abuse and predatory behavior throughout his career.

Jackson showed his short film ‘Ghosts’ to prove he could be Professor X

Jackson had prepared a presentation that he hoped would convince the filmmakers he was the right person for the role of Professor X. It included showing his 1996 short Ghosts

In that 40-minute film (which was co-written by Stephen King), the “Thriller” singer plays a character called Maestro, who entertains children in a small town with ghost stories and magic tricks. The town’s white mayor (also played by Jackson), wants to run the Maestro out of town because he thinks he’s a “freak.”   

Ghosts isn’t Jackson’s only acting credit. He also appeared as the Scarecrow in the 1978 musical The Wiz and the 1986 sci-fiction short Captain EO, which was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and shown at Disney theme parks. In 2002, he made a cameo appearance in Men In Black II. 

Jackson wasn’t seriously considered for the role 

Jackson’s pitch to Singer wasn’t successful. Ultimately, Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Patrick Stewart was chosen to play the character, appearing in seven films in the franchise, most recently in 2017’s Logan

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Jackson was never a serious contender for the Professor X role. At the time he was lobbying for the part, his reputation was already in trouble due to sexual abuse allegations. 

In 1993, Jackson was accused of sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy. A lawsuit filed by the boy’s parents was settled out of court. In 2003, he was charged with molesting a 13-year-old boy. He was acquitted in that case. After Jackson’s death, two other men came forward and said Jackson had abused them when they were children, allegations covered in the 2019 film Leaving Neverland. 

Michael Jackson tried to buy Marvel 

Jackson’s interest in Marvel didn’t stop with Professor X and X-Men. He was apparently a big fan of Marvel Comics in general, in particular Spider-Man. In a 2020 interview with PopcornedPlanet, Jackson’s nephew Taj Jackson said his uncle was in talks (along with Stan Lee) to purchase the comics publisher, but that the deal fell through. But if Jackson had been able to buy Marvel, the MCU as it exists probably wouldn’t exist — and we may have had an X-Men movie starring Jackson as Professor X.  

How to get help: In the U.S., call the RAINN National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to connect with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area. 

Check out Showbiz Cheat Sheet on Facebook!