Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson’s romance was the real thing, so says the director for Jackson’s You Are Not Alone hit.
For the first time since her d**th, director Wayne Isham is speaking about the relationship between her and the late King of Pop. Isham, 64, was the director for Jackson’s You Are Not Alone video, which was released in 1995. Presley starred as the leading lady.
Presley and Jackson, who married in 1994 before divorcing two years later, were very much in love while filming the video for the Grammy-nominated hit, Isham tells people.
“They had [an] innocent, playful relationship that I felt was a real relationship,” says Isham. “So it all came off fine. It came off really well. I think she looks great in it.”
He continues, “There are so many different cuts of the versions of the song. You could see her laughing, him and her laughing, and her swimming around and coming up to the edge of the pool. It was a fun shoot. She was game for it, and she had a great spirit, and the two of them had a great time in it.”
He notes that at the time of the shoot, Presley and Jackson were newlyweds, which played into their on-camera chemistry.
“It was in that newlywed fun and humor and laughter and smiles that you can see. So it was all very positive,” he says. “People have asked me this before, it’s like, ‘Is there a reality to their relationship, and what was going on there?’ It was all very fun. They had a great time and great relationship on the set, so the best I can reflect off of is that.”
Sharing details about their “genuine affection,” Isham tells PEOPLE the then-couple also had a shared “genuine sense of humor.”
“There was a lot of laughter between the two of them, smiles, so I thought that was good,” he adds.
And he explains that their love was just as strong when the cameras were rolling in between takes, giving him candid footage of the pair that made it into the actual video.
“I was saying, ‘We don’t have time for you to leave, so just stay on the set right there, and I’m just going to shoot.’ In a lot of that stuff, in a lot of those shots, you see literally off the cuff because he’s not singing during the piece out there on the set with her. It was literally just us. That’s the real reaction, the real inner change of smiles and laughter. That was me just picking those shots off.”
While speaking with PEOPLE, Isham recalls that Jackson’s inspiration for the video set came from a painting by artist Maxfield Parrish called Daybreak.
“He really wanted to have a set that reflected the innocence, the beauty, and the drama, the theatrical drama of Maxfield Parrish and his paintings,” says Isham. “Then he had suggested that Lisa Marie be involved in that part of the shoot.”
“The words of the song are so reflective of him and being alone, and that also applies to their kind of relationship. So it all, in some way or another, had some meaning to it in that regard,” he says.
Though Isham never saw Presley again after the video shoot, he says that Jackson later told him she was “pleased” with the outcome.
Isham was no stranger to working with Jackson. He also directed the video for Eddie Murphy’s “Whatzupwitu,” which featured the 13-time Grammy winner.
Isham recalls a difference in Jackson’s demeanor when Presley was around, stating that he was “more playful.”
“The security guard said they’ve never done a shoot where he hasn’t left the scene in between each shoot, so they were just very comfortable with me. He has a sense of humor, and I think that’s reflected in just his energy of doing things at that point. So it was great,” says Isham.
He adds, “I can definitely see [him] from being private to being a little more open when he was with her, and on that shoot itself.”
Presley also had a different countenance when she was with her then-husband, says Isham.
“You could see that when she was with him, she definitely felt comfortable, which I think was an important thing for me. Off camera, were they comfortable? They were very comfortable together,” he says. “On camera and off camera, they were exactly the same. You could see that reflected when she was talking in that interview about his magnetic personality and his charisma. I could definitely see that we both believed in that.”