8 Aug – James Franco has been cast to play Cuban leader Fidel Castro in the upcoming movie, "Alina of Cuba".
The movie, which has also cast Ana Villafane in the titular role, will revolve around Alina Fernandez, the illegitimate daughter of Castro who grew up to become one of his most outspoken critics and she later defected to Spain.
Speaking about the casting of Franco, who is not of Cuban descent, producer John Martinez O'Fellan stated, "Finding and convincing James Franco to play Castro, was a fun and challenging process and has been the collaborative work of the universe, because our director's original order was to find an actor who holds a close physical resemblance to the real Castro to build from, along with finding someone Alina Fernandez would strongly endorse."
"To get there on such a tough look to cast, we used Fidel Castro's ancient Galician heraldry as our focal compass, and then combed through the entire ranks of actors with Latin roots in Hollywood to find someone who has a similar facial structure. In executing a close search into our hopefuls through the eye of Spanish and Portuguese genealogy which the Galicians held, we found that James, by far, had the closest facial likeness of our Industry's leading actors, meaning that the focus would be to build out his character accent and we'd have a stunning on-screen match to intrigue audiences and bring the story to life with true visual integrity. Altogether, working with such a supportive and exciting cast has been a true blessing to our team and project."
Franco is of Swedish and Portuguese descent on his father's side, while his mother is Jewish. However, this is not the first time Franco has played real-life people in movies, having portrayed James Dean in his TV movie of the same name, as well as director-actor Tommy Wiseau in "The Disaster Artist".
Other cast members include Mia Maestro as Alina's mother Naty Revuelta, Alanna de la Rosa, Maria Cecilia Botero, and Harding Junior.
Despite the explanation about his casting, there are already backlash against it from Cuban actors and the Latino community, with John Leguizamo expressing anger over it.
"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 be wrong! I don't got a prob with Franco but he ain't Latino!" he stressed.