Michael Jackson's nephew, Jaafar, to play pop star in new biopic after 'worldwide search'

Producers of a new biopic about Michael Jackson have cast his nephew to play the late pop singer following a "worldwide search".

Director Antoine Fuqua and producer Graham King said Jaafar Jackson, whose father is Jermaine Jackson, had a natural ability to emulate his uncle and bring him to life.

The official Michael Jackson account tweeted: "Have you heard the news? Michael's nephew, Jaafar, has been chosen to portray Michael in the upcoming biopic on the King of Pop!"

Lionsgate Studio said the biographical movie, called Michael, will explore "the complicated man who became the King of Pop".

The film will include "all aspects" of his life and his most noteworthy performances that set him on the path to becoming an icon in the musical world", it said in a statement.

Lionsgate did not directly address one of the most controversial aspects of Jackson's story - his trial on child sex abuse charges in 2005 and additional allegations against the singer featured in the 2019 documentary, Leaving Neverland.

In 2005, Jackson was acquitted by a California jury in the sex abuse case involving a 13-year-old boy.

The 2019 documentary followed the accounts of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who claimed they were befriended by Jackson and sexually abused by him from ages seven and 10, respectively, in the early 1990s.

Jackson died aged 50 on 25 June 2009 just as he was preparing for his This Is It comeback tour.

While the creators of the film looked far and wide for the right person for the role, it seems their answer was closer to home.

"I met Jaafar over two years ago and was blown away by the way he organically personifies the spirit and personality of Michael," King said in a statement.

"It was something so powerful that even after conducting a worldwide search, it was clear that he is the only person to take on this role."

King was a producer on award-winning Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which stars Rami Malek.

In an Instagram post Jackson, 26, wrote: "I'm humbled and honored to bring my Uncle Michael's story to life. To all the fans all over the world, I'll see you soon."

"Jaafar embodies my son," said Michael Jackson's mother, Katherine Jackson, in the news release.

"It's so wonderful to see him carry on the Jackson legacy of entertainers and performers."

Filming is due to begin later this year.