Following John Leguizamo’s criticism of the casting of James Franco as Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro in an independent film Alina from Cubaproducer John Martinez O’Felan replied, calling the comments “culturally uneducated.”
Directed by Miguel Bardem, based on a screenplay by Jose Rivera and Nilo Cruz, Franco stars alongside Mía Maestro, who plays Natalia “Nata” Revuelta, a Cuba-born regular with whom Castro has a romantic relationship. The film is based on the true story of Alina Fernandez – played by Ana Villafañe – a Cuban exile turned social advocate who learns at the age of 10 that she is Castro’s daughter.
Leguizamo, a Colombian American actor who wrote and produced on Broadway Latin history for moronsmoved to Instagram on Friday to drop his decision to cast Franco, asking why Hollywood “excludes” the Latin American community and notes that the Castro movie is “a seriously difficult story to tell without exaggerating.”
“How is it still happening?” Leguizamo, who had previously spoken out loud about the lack of a Latinx representation in Hollywood, said about the casting. “How does Hollywood exclude us but steal our narratives as well? No more hijacking Hollywood and streamers! Boycott! It’s F’d up! Plus a seriously difficult story to tell without exaggerating which would be wrong! I have no problem with Franco but he is not Latin!
In response, O’Felan, the film’s producer, said in a statement: Hollywood reporter that he admires Leguizamo, but his comments are a “blind attack”.
“A guy like John Leguizamo was historically viewed by Hispanics as one of the earliest American Hispanic actors since the 1990s, and I have always admired him as a weaker colleague. But his comments are culturally uneducated and are a blind attack with zero content associated with this project.
“The reality of a fragment of ignorance is in his statement, suggesting his personal view of being” Latin “because the weight of the earth or area of life does not determine a person’s blood history or genetics,” he continues.
O’Felan goes on to say that “the Leguizamo memo is a great topic to talk about as it portrays the same confusion and identity crisis in Hollywood now in the Latin American community that argues that we should only identify as Latinos, largely because lies are being spread. by actors who are supposed to represent us but instead create divisions among their people. ”
The producer concludes that Leguizamo’s criticism ultimately detracts from who the film is about: Fernandez.
“I think he should go beyond himself and also admit that this story is about a Latin American immigrant who is historically significant, led by a Hispanic woman and I’m just the underdog doing it, so I should also understand that this a bit disappointing that our work is being attacked by someone claiming to be a Latin community leader, ”he says.
Alina from Cuba features a cast and crew from “at least seven countries around the world,” according to O’Felan, with sets by Carlos Osorio, editing by Diego Fernando Bustamante, costumes by Daniel Rivano and Juan Carlos Gil as director. Nana Fisher, who has worked extensively with Franco, will become head of his makeup team, while Jessica Drake will be the main cast’s dialect trainer.
Alanna de la Rosa, Maria Cecilia Botero, Harding Junior, Sian Chiong and Rafael Ernesto Hernandez are in the supporting cast of the film. Filming is slated to begin on August 15 in the Colombian cities of Cartagena and Bogota.
The role is one of the first for Franco since the 2019 animated film Arctic dogs and the HBO series Two. The Oscar-winning actor was indicted in LA Times report in 2018 by several women about sexual abuse behavior after winning the Golden Globes for The artist of the disaster. In 2021, Franco ruled on a sexual misconduct lawsuit filed by actresses Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal – former students of his now defunct Studio 4 acting school. Franco’s lawyers denied the allegations, but the actor admitted sleeping with students, although he said there was no him with anyone in his class.