John Leguizamo has brought out the “F’d up” news that James Franco has been cast to play Fidel Castro in an upcoming biopic.
Earlier this week, TSTIME reported that Franco would star as the Cuban leader in Miguel Bardem’s independent film Alina from Cuba.
The film is based on the real life of Alina Fernandez (Ana Villafañe), a Cuban exile who learned at the age of 10 that she is Castro’s daughter. Mía Maestro is cast as Natalia “Naty” Revuelta, a socialite with whom he had an affair.
News of Franco’s casting was met with outrage, with much criticism of the casting of a white actor in a Cuban role.
On Friday (August 5), Leguizamo shared his own frustrations on Instagram.
“How’s this going?” the Romeo + Juliet star wrote. “How does Hollywood exclude us, but also steal our stories? No more appropriation of Hollywood and streamers! Boycott! This F’d up!
“Plus a seriously hard story to tell without glorification, which would be wrong!”
Leguizamo added: “I have no problem with Franco, but he’s not Latino!”
On Twitter, many social media users shared their frustration at the limited roles available to Latinx performers.
Jeff Toores also expressed his anger at the casting news, writing: “I’m auditioning for another generic Latin American drug dealer and James Franco is playing a mad Fidel Castro. Latinos get dirty here and everywhere. Damn lol.”
However, Alina from CubaProducer John Martinez O’Felan disputed Leguizamo’s claims, calling them a “blind attack”.
“A man like John Leguizamo has been historically regarded by Hispanics as one of America’s earliest actors of Latin descent since the 1990s, and I’ve always admired him as a fellow underdog. regarding this project,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.
“The reality of the piece of ignorance falls within his statement which suggests his personal view of being ‘Latino’ because a landmass or habitat does not determine a person’s blood history or genetics.”
The film marks one of Franco’s first major projects since he was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women in 2018.
Five women, including four of his former students, came forward in January 2018 with allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior by the 43-year-old. At the time, Franco said the allegations were “false” but that he did not want to “exclude” people who “had no voice”.
Last year, he settled a lawsuit filed by two of his former students. In an interview, he described being “completely blind to power dynamics” while admitting to having sex with his acting students.