August 19, 2022

Cuban producer Alina hits back at John Leguizamo’s criticism of James Franco playing Fidel Castro

4 min read


The Alina of Cuba creator John Martinez O’Phelan is hitting back at John Leguizamo’s criticism of casting James Franco as former Cuban President Fidel Castro, calling him “culturally illiterate”.

The film is based on the real-life story of Alina Fernández, played by Ana Villafane, a Cuban exiled social lawyer who discovers she is Castro’s daughter at the age of 10. Hollywood Reporter,

Franco is set to star alongside Mia Maestro, who plays Natalia ‘Natti’ Ravuelta, a Cuban-born socialite who becomes romantically involved with Castro.

Casting controversy: John Leguizamo criticized the casting of James Franco as Fidel Castro because he has no Latino roots;  seen in 2019

Casting controversy: The Alina of Cuba producer says Franco's casting came after an extensive search to find the best possible physical fit to play Castro;  seen in june

Casting controversy: John Martinez O’Phelan, lead creative producer for Alina of Cuba, hits back at criticism of John Leguizamo, saying Franco was hired to play Fidel Castro, leaving him ‘culturally illiterate’ Was said.

Colombian-American actor Leguizamo took to Instagram on Friday and strongly condemned director Miguel Bardem’s choice for a new film, calling it another example of cultural appropriation that Franco doesn’t have Latin roots for.

‘How’s it still going? How is Hollywood locking us out but also stealing our narratives?’ said Leguizamo, who has long been an advocate for the inclusion of Latin actors and their stories to be told on screen.

He continued, ‘No more appropriation Hollywood and streamers! Boycott! F’d it up! Plus a seriously difficult story to tell without upgrading, which would be wrong! I don’t have [problem] With Franco but she’s not Latino!’

Praising Leguizamo, producer John Martinez O’Phelan hit back at his comments about hiring Franco to play a Latino.

His Take: Leguizamo, 62, accused the team behind Cuba's Alina of

His Take: Leguizamo, 62, accused the team behind Cuba’s Alina of “stealing our narrative” by leaving “Latino” and then calling on people to boycott the biopic.

“A man like John Leguizamo has been historically looked upon by Hispanics as one of the earliest actors in Latin-American America since the 90s and I have always admired him as a fellow underdog. But his comments are culturally illiterate and a blind attack with zero substance relating to this project,’ he said.

O’Phelan continued, ‘The reality of the piece of ignorance falls within his statement suggesting his personal point of view on being “Latino”, as land mass or area of ​​residence does not determine an individual’s blood history or genetics. Is.

O’Phelan called Leguizamo’s notes ‘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. Which is mostly because of the lies being spread by the actors who are supposed to represent us, but create division among their own people.

Fighting Back: Offering his praise for Leguizamo in response, producer John Martinez O'Phelan called his comments 'culturally illiterate and a blind attack with zero substance related to the project' in an interview with THR ;  As seen in Hollywood in March

Fighting Back: Offering his praise for Leguizamo in response, producer John Martinez O’Phelan called his comments ‘culturally illiterate and a blind attack with zero substance related to the project’ in an interview with THR ; As seen in Hollywood in March

According to colliderFranco’s casting came after an extensive search to find the best possible physical fit to play Castro among the best actors in the industry, and was directly approved by Fernandez.

Franco is of Portuguese and Swedish ancestry on his father’s side, and Russian Jewish on his mother’s side.

“Finding and persuading James Franco to play Castro was a fun and challenging process, and it has been a collaborative work of the universe, as our director’s original order was to find an actor who would go on to produce the real Castro.” Alina Fernandez will strongly support as well as find someone who bears a close physical resemblance,’ O’Phelan explained.

He further reveals that he used ‘Fidel Castro’s ancient Galician heraldry’ as his focal compass, and then sifted through a long list of actors of Latin descent in Hollywood to find someone with a similar facial structure. did.

The film’s chief creative producer revealed, ‘In conducting a closer search in our candidates through the eyes of the Spanish and Portuguese ancestry that Galicians have, we found that James, by far, had the closest facial resemblance to the leading actors of our industry. .

The producer revealed that he used 'Fidel Castro's Ancient Galician Heraldry' as his focal compass,

Casting Search: Franco is of Portuguese and Swedish ancestry on his father's side, and Russian Jewish on his mother's side;  seen in june

Casting Search: Franco’s casting came after an extensive search to find the best possible physical fit to play Castro among the best actors in the industry, and was directly approved by Alina Fernandez, the real-life woman for whom the film is based. was done, O’Phelan added

In the end, the producers emphasized that the film does not focus on Franco’s character.

‘I think he should get ahead of himself and also acknowledge that this story is about a Latin female immigrant living in America, led by a Latin woman of historical importance and I’m just a downtrodden. I am the woman who is making it, so she should also understand that it is disappointing to see our work being attacked by someone claiming to be the leader of the Latin community,’ O’Phelan said.

Directed by Miguel Bardem and based on a script by Jose Rivera and Nilo Cruz, the cast also includes Alana de la Rosa, María Cecilia Botero, Harding Jr., Cian Chiong and Rafael Ernesto Hernández.

Filming for Alina of Cuba is expected to begin on August 15.



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