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Michael Jackson wasn’t just one of the music industry’s most successful artists. He was also interested in pursuing an acting career as well. He was especially intrigued by playing the character Peter Pan, so much so that he begged for the role at one point.

Michael Jackson cried when asking to play Peter Pan

Michael Jackson wearing a jacket
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Jackson had an unfulfilled dream of being an actor. But his acting ability wasn’t completely untested. He featured in projects like The Wiz and Ghosts to help showcase his skills in front of the camera. But there was one character he always had his eye on, and that was the mythical hero who never grew up Peter Pan.

Theater director Sir Trevor Nunn reflected on Jackson approaching him for the role. Since Nunn had a lot of experience with stage-directing, Jackson went to Nunn for advice for a stage tour he was doing in the 80s. But Jackson’s focus changed direction when he realized Nunn developed his own Peter Pan project.

“He said he wanted to be able to fly over the audience and I said, ‘That’s not a problem. There’s no difficulty, I had people flying over the audience when I did Peter Pan.’ It was like I had pressed a button that would give him an electric shock – everything changed,” Nunn said according to Contact Music.

Afterwards, the “Beat It” hitmaker invested all of his energy on trying to be cast in Nunn’s Peter Pan.

“He sat bolt upright and the excitement was just overwhelming, he jumped up, he walked around the room, he kept repeating, ‘Peter Pan, oh my god, Peter Pan,'” Nunn remembered. “I explained we had done the show in London using adult actors to play the children and suddenly his eyes were brimful with tears and he came across the room and he knelt down in front of me and he grabbed my knees and he said, ‘Could I play Peter Pan? Is it too late for me to play Peter Pan?'”

Michael Jackson pulled out of ‘Hook’ because of the way Steven Spielberg portrayed Peter Pan


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It seemed Jackson didn’t give up on playing Peter Pan. He saw another opportunity to play the mythical figure when he heard about Steven Spielberg’s HookHook offered a different cinematic take on the Peter Pan mythology. Jackson was already a huge fan of Spielberg. So collaborating with the filmmaker meant he would’ve accomplished two dreams at once.

“I love experienced people. I love people who are phenomenally talented,” Jackson once said on Interview. “I love people who’ve worked so hard and been so courageous and are the leaders in their fields. For me to meet somebody like that and learn from them and share words with them—to me that’s magic. To work together. I’m crazy about Steven Spielberg.”

One of Spielberg’s own most celebrated projects even gave Jackson the same feeling he’d get when thinking about Peter Pan.

“We all have the same emotions and that’s why a film like E.T. touches everybody. Who doesn’t want to fly like Peter Pan? Who doesn’t want to fly with some magic creature from outer space and be friends with him? Steven went straight to the heart. He knows—when in doubt, go for the heart,” Jackson added.

 Still, Jackson rejected Hook after learning about the direction Spielberg planned taking Peter Pan in.

“Michael had always wanted to play Peter Pan, but I called Michael and I said, ‘This is about a lawyer that is brought back to save his kids and discovers that he was once, when he was younger, Peter Pan.’ So Michael understood at that point it wasn’t the same Peter Pan he wanted to make,” Spielberg said in a 2011 interview with Entertainment Weekly.