Fidel Castro's daughter Alina Fernández is rallying behind the casting of James Franco as her father in the upcoming independent film Alina of Cuba. After Emmy-winning actor John Leguizamo and several other Latinx actors spoke out against Franco's casting, calling it appropriative and exclusionary of the Latinx community in Hollywood, Fernández defended the project to Deadline.
"James Franco has an obvious physical resemblance with Fidel Castro, besides his skills and charisma," she told the outlet. "I find the selection of the cast amazing." The film, directed by Miguel Bardem and written by acclaimed playwrights Jose Rivera and Nilo Cruz, is based on the true story of Fernández's exile from Cuba due to her criticism of her father and the government. It also stars Ana Villafañe as Fernández and Mía Maestro as her mother Natalia Revuelta
"The filmmakers worked a lot and I can't be more grateful to them for their overall inclusive selection," Fernández continued. "To me, the most important thing about this movie is that the conversation about Cuba is alive. Personally, the experience is so far too unexpected but more than anything, humbling."
Franco's casting news sparked outrage on social media Friday, as Leguizamo asked, "How is this still going on?" The Freak actor continued, "How is Hollywood excluding us but stealing our narratives as well? No more appropriation Hollywood and streamers! Boycott! This F'd up! Plus seriously difficult story to tell without aggrandizement which would b wrong! I don't got a prob with Franco but he ain't Latino!"
"Latin exclusion in Hollywood is real! Don't get it twisted!" he added in another post. "Long long history of it! And appropriation of our stories even longer! Why can't Latinxers play Latin roles? Why can't we play lead roles?" John Martinez O'Felan, a producer on the film, would go on to call Leguizamo's comments "a blind attack" to The Hollywood Reporter.
"A guy like John Leguizamo has historically been looked up to by Hispanics as one of America's earliest actors of Latin descent since the '90s and I've always admired him as a fellow underdog," he told the outlet "But his comments are culturally uneducated and a blind attack with zero substance related to this project... I think he should move past himself and also acknowledge that this story is about a Latin female immigrant living in America who is of historical importance, led by a Latin woman and I'm just an underdog who is making it."0comments