Young Michael Jackson has been cast for the upcoming biopic about the King of Pop.

Lionsgate has announced that 9-year-old Juliano Krue Valdi has been cast to play the young Michael Jackson in Michael, directed by Antoine Fuqua from a script by John Logan. Principal photography begins next week.

Valdi will star alongside Jackson’s nephew Jaafar Jackson, who will portray the pop star in his adult years. The film’s producer, Graham King, called Valdi someone who is inspired by Jackson’s music and life.

“When Michael was very young – eleven years old – he astounded the world, possessing the spirit and talent of an adult. He was truly an old soul. He and Juliano have that in common,” King said. “Beyond being a phenomenal young talent, Juliano is deeply inspired by Michael and his music, and has managed to translate that inspiration into a presence and performance that captures the true magic of young Michael Jackson.”

Fuqua also said how casting young Michael was the hardest part of the casting process.

“If anything, casting the role of the young Michael was more difficult than casting the adult role, because where do you find a child actor with the chops of the greatest entertainer who ever lived? In the end, that was our focus – talent – and we looked far and wide for an actor who could embody Michael’s spirit through his voice, his charisma, and his dance skills. Juliano’s undeniable, raw talent put him at the top of our list.”

Valdi also said about getting the role, “This opportunity is really important to me because Michael Jackson is the King of Pop, and he is very special in my heart. I’ve been dancing to his songs for five years now. He makes me feel really special and makes me feel good about myself. I love the energy of Michael Jackson.”

The biopic promises “a riveting and honest portrayal of the brilliant yet complicated man who became known worldwide as the King of Pop.” According to the description from Lionsgate:

The film presents his triumphs and tragedies on an epic, cinematic scale — from his human side and personal struggles to his undeniable creative genius, captured by his most iconic performances. As never before, audiences will experience an inside look into one of the most influential, trailblazing artists the world has ever known.

Along with King, Michael is produced by the co-executors of the Michael Jackson estate, John Branca and John McClain. Michael is set to come to theaters April 18, 2025.