The film is based on a 2011 story published in Vanity Fair alleging that Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, and Michael Jackson embarked on a road trip from New York City to Ohio in a rental car shortly after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, as accounted by Elizabeth Taylor's former personal assistant Tim Mendelson and an anonymous former employee of Michael Jackson. While Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando were in New York City on the evening of the 10th to attend Michael Jackson's 30th anniversary concert, whether the road trip actually took place is disputed. A former employee of Taylor told the Washington Post that she remained in New York for several days and eventually flew home, while a family friend of Michael Jackson told the New York Post he departed New York on his tour bus, accompanied by his family and professional entourage, while Marlon Brando sequestered himself in his hotel room.
Despite the fact that Michael Jackson was African American (albeit one whose skin condition and makeup regimen sometimes made his skin appear lighter as an adult than it had as a child), Joseph Fiennes, the actor cast to play him in this movie, is a white man. In a 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Jackson objected strongly to the idea of a white actor portraying him in a movie: "Why would I want a white [actor] to play me? I'm a black American. I'm proud to be a black American. I am proud of my race. I am proud of who I am."