Throwback: Michael Jackson’s ‘Remember the Time’ Video Was Packed With A-Listers

Michael Jackson earned his status as The King of Pop with crowd-pleasing songs, unforgettable performances, and cinematic music videos. One such video for Remember the Time stands out as one of Jackson’s most elaborate mini-movies. And superfans may recall that the cast and crew were packed with icons from various spheres of entertainment.

Michael Jackson and Eddie Murphy
Michael Jackson and Eddie Murphy | Steve Granitz/WireImage

‘Remember the Time’ boasted a crew of entertainment pros

The music video for Remember the Time is more accurately described as a short film. Timing out at just over nine minutes, it tells an engaging story of temptation, jealousy, and even a little magic.

Film icon John Singleton directed Remember the Time in 1992, one year after his riveting feature film debut, Boyz n the Hood. Singleton went on to write, direct, and produce other television and film projects. Some of his most popular titles include Poetic Justice, Higher Learning, and 2 Fast 2 Furious.

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When it comes to choreography, Jackson tapped dance pro Fatima Robinson to create the iconic sequences in Remember the Time. Fans may recognize Robinson’s work from various music videos, television shows, and films, including Save the Last Dance, The Wiz Live!, and her latest gig behind the scenes of Coming 2 America.

Steering the song’s creative direction was Jackson, who co-wrote Remember the Time with Bernard Belle and Teddy Riley. Jackson and Riley also produced the track according to Spotify. With so much creative juice behind the scenes, it is no surprise that Remember the Time became a hit.

‘Remember the Time’ was full of Hollywood stars

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In addition to the geniuses at work behind the scenes, the on-screen talent was equally impressive.

Comedian-turned-movie star Eddie Murphy owned the role of the all-powerful Pharaoh Ramses. By his side as the Queen of Egypt, supermodel and actor Iman radiated regality. As Herald, an officer of the royal court, basketball legend Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson exuded strength with a dash of comedic flair. And, of course, in the starring role of a royal entertainer, Jackson stole the show.

The short film told a story of a queen’s infatuation with a mysterious stranger

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As the director, Singleton brought his signature style of storytelling to Remember the Time. The guru spent nearly three and a half minutes setting up the main narrative before the music kicked in.

The short film opens with a theatrical-style title card that reads, Remember the Time. Suddenly, the sands of time in an hourglass transport the audience to ancient Egypt inside the court of Pharaoh Ramses and the Queen of Egypt.

“I’m bored. I want to be entertained,” says the Queen. With that in mind, the King arranges a slate of entertainment to appease his mate. In a booming voice, the royal servant, Herald, calls forth a series of artists, one after another. Each act disappoints the Queen, and she orders their executions as punishment.

Last in the royal show lineup is a mysterious stranger who makes a magical appearance. The stage is set, the beat of the song drops, and the slick choreography begins. Jackson — as the stranger — is front and center with a slew of skilled dancers backing him up.

He delivers a show-stopping performance, woos the Queen, and spurs Pharaoh’s jealousy. On the Pharaoh’s orders, the royal guards pursue and attempt to seize the stranger, who evades capture and actually manages to have a hot hookup with the Queen.

After a dope dance sequence, the soldiers corner the stranger. With nowhere to run, he disappears into a swirl of enchanted sand and blows away. With stellar singing, dancing, and acting, Remember the Time truly solidified its place as one of the most unforgettable short films in music history.

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