The American actor will play the Cuban leader in a film about his “rebellious daughter”, Alina Fernández. A decision seen by some as a way to exclude Latin actors from the big screen.
After learning this Friday that James Franco was going to play Fidel Castro in the film Alina de Cuba, the Latin American community mobilized against this casting decision, seen by some as cultural appropriation.
Among the many reactions, actor John Leguizamo (the Ice Age) notably denounced on Instagram the frequent exclusion of Latin American actors to play leading roles in Hollywood in favor of white men.
“I don’t have a problem with Franco but he’s not Latino! I grew up in a time when Latinos couldn’t play Latinos in movies. Where Charlton Heston played a Mexican, where Eli Wallach played a Mexican , where Pacino played a Cuban and a Puerto Rican. Where Ben Affleck, even, in Argo, played a Latino and Marisa Tomei played Latin women. We couldn’t even play our own roles,” the Bogota, Colombia-born comedian said in an Instagram post.
“I find the cast selection incredible”
Interviewed exclusively by the American media Deadlinethe daughter of Fidel Castro, Alina Fernández wanted to give her support to James Franco, by approving the casting of the actor to play her father.
“James Franco has an obvious physical resemblance to Fidel Castro, in addition to his skills and charisma. I find the casting selection incredible,” she said.
Alina Fernández also responded to John Leguizamo’s criticisms regarding the issue of inclusion: “The project is almost entirely Latino, both in front of and behind the camera. The directors have worked hard and I cannot be more grateful to them for their overall inclusive selection. For me, the most important thing about this film is that the conversation about Cuba is always alive.”