Michael Jack­son im­per­son­ator stars in new film

CityPress - - News - GRETHE KEMP grethe.kemp@city­press.co.za

Navi, the world’s most fa­mous Michael Jack­son im­per­son­ator, is now star­ring as MJ him­self in Michael Jack­son: Search­ing for Nev­er­land, a new Lifetime movie.

In a tele­phonic in­ter­view with the ac­tor, we asked him why peo­ple should watch this movie.

“It will squash a lot of ru­mours about Michael. It will squash the idea that he had this glo­ri­ous life and that he was on these drugs,” he said.

He said he re­garded Jack­son as “a great am­bas­sador for how peo­ple should be” and that, even af­ter achiev­ing so much in his life, he was still a lov­ing per­son.

Navi worked with Jack­son as a per­former and travelled to the Nether­lands with him.

“I have pic­tures and video footage with him back­stage ap­plaud­ing me. And I thought noth­ing would com­pare to it ... ex­cept this movie now.”

Navi said the movie also brings into per­spec­tive how the doc­tor who was later found to be re­spon­si­ble for Jack­son’s death came into the singer’s life. In ad­di­tion, it ad­dresses the ru­mours about Jack­son’s sex­u­al­ity, dis­pels ru­mours that the hit­maker wasted his money, ex­poses the man who badly man­aged him, and re­veals that a team of body­guards who cared about him was re­placed with se­cu­rity guards who were all about money and busi­ness.

“Peo­ple need to watch this film be­cause, if you like him and you care about his mu­sic, you should re­ally know who he is, and then you’d ap­pre­ci­ate him and his art a lot more,” Navi added.

Asked how he pre­pared for the role, he said he first had to lose about 9kg to por­tray Jack­son. While he got away with his reg­u­lar weight in his shows, star­ring in a movie that would be screened around the world re­quired that he lose some weight be­cause Jack­son was very thin at one point. “We were fit­ting in vo­cal coaches and act­ing coaches and run­ning on tread­mills and starv­ing our­selves,” he said, ad­ding that he owed his suc­cess to his as­sis­tant who put up with the de­mands made on him while pre­par­ing for the film. In being con­sid­ered for the role, Navi faced the chal­lenge of tick­ing all the right boxes about what the world knew about Jack­son, in­clud­ing his looks, char­ac­ter, speech, man­ner­isms and unique danc­ing style. He also had to get “an American ac­cent” right in two weeks of vo­cal coach­ing. This was later aban­doned as it was dis­tract­ing him from his act­ing, he said, be­cause he was “too fo­cused on how to say the words”.

Navi, for whom this act­ing role is a first, said he had found act­ing quite dif­fi­cult and be­lieved he had “failed on one or two of those boxes”.

While he was given the copy of the film, he said he had not watched it be­cause “it’s too hard”.

“With Michael Jack­son, it is too per­sonal – I never even watched the me­mo­rial. I did this film be­cause I wanted to do it for him [and] for me.

“Michael is out there,” said an emo­tional Navi. The movie pre­mieres at 8pm tonight

on DStv channel 131

DOP­PEL­GANGER Navi, the world’s most fa­mous Michael Jack­son im­per­son­ator, has been do­ing it for 28 years

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