Film producer responds to criticism following James Franco's casting as Fidel Castro

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James Franco.
James Franco.
Photo: Debra L Rothenberg/Getty Images via AFP
  • Alina of Cuba producer has responded to criticism following the casting of James Franco.
  • Franco is set to play Cuban revolutionary and politician Fidel Castro.
  • On Friday, actor John Leguizamo slammed the casting; he wrote on Instagram: "How is Hollywood excluding us but stealing our narratives as well."

Film producer John Martinez O'Felan has responded to criticism following the casting of James Franco as Cuban revolutionary and politician Fidel Castro.

Earlier this week, Deadline first reported that Franco would play the former president in the independent film Alina of Cuba, directed by Miguel Bardem alongside Anan Ana Villafañe, who will play Alina Fernandez, Castro's daughter.

The film follows the real-life story of Fernandez, an exile turned social advocate who discovered she was Castro's daughter when she was 10 years old.

On Franco's casting, O'Felan told the publication: "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."

James Franco, Fidel Castro.
James Franco, Fidel Castro.

On Friday, actor John Leguizamo slammed the casting. In a post on Instagram, he wrote: How is this still going on? How is Hollywood excluding us but stealing our narratives as well? No more appropriation Hollywood and streamers! Boycott! This F'd up!"

He added: "Plus seriously difficult story to tell without aggrandisement, which would be wrong! I don't got a prob with Franco, but he ain't Latino!" the actor continued.


According to People, Franco is of Portuguese and Swedish descent from his father's side and of Russian Jewish descent from his mother's side.

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter O'Felan said Leguizamo's comments are a "blind attack.'

"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. But his comments are culturally uneducated and a blind attack with zero substance related to this project.

O'Felan also said that the John Wick actor's post "is a great talking point because they represent the same confusion and identity crisis in Hollywood right now within the Hispanic community in America who are arguing that we should only identify as Latin."

Alina Fernández has also backed the casting of Franco.

"James Franco has an obvious physical resemblance with Fidel Castro, besides his skills and charisma," she told Deadline.

This is the 44-year-old's second major casting announcement after he stepped away from acting following sexual misconduct allegations. In July, it was announced that he would play a lead role in Me, You, a post-World War II coming-of-age drama by Danish director Billie August.

READ MORE | James Franco makes acting comeback following sexual misconduct allegations

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