Michael Jackson's former friend says Leaving Neverland documentary made him feel "sick"
HBO's documentary series Leaving Neverland aired its first two episodes earlier this week, and the fallout from both shows has been extraordinary.
The film sees James "Jimmy" Safechuck and Wade Robson sharing their respective stories about the time they spent with megastar Michael Jackson when they were children. For anybody unaware, the pair allege in no uncertain terms that they were sexually abused by the late King of Pop at his Neverland Ranch.
Now, Mark Lester - an actor who found his big break in the 1968 movie Oliver! at age eight - is defending the musician, who was a personal friend, against these new allegations.
In an interview on UK breakfast show Lorraine, the now 60-year-old said the documentary has left him feeling "quite sick":
"This is not the Michael Jackson I knew for over 30 years, this is not the man my children knew. This is not the guy that I knew they were talking about," he said.
He then spoke of his disappointment that the documentary had aired in the first place.
"I don’t really know what the object of the exercise is here," Lester stated, adding: "It’s a very sad and sensitive subject and child abuse is awful. I can’t fathom what good or what this is trying to achieve."
The former child star then went into further detail about his friendship with the 13-time Grammy winner, revealing that Jackson was, in fact, the godfather to his children.
"I never saw or was party or even had the slightest notion that there was anything untoward with Michael," Lester told host Lorraine Kelly.
"My children were for maybe seven or eight years with Michael’s children, playing together. I was godfather to his children, he was godfather to my children."
Following its release on HBO, Finding Neverland saw a varied response on Twitter:
Lester aside, Jackson's own family continue to defend the late star, in spite of the documentary's alarming allegations.
The family gave an interview to CBS, sharing their response to the film, branding Michael's naivety "his downfall":