No thanks, Franco.
on Friday, John Leguizamo took to Instagram To call on the entertainment industry to cast another white actor in the role of an apparently non-white character. The rebuke followed news that James Franco would portray infamous Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in the upcoming film “Alina of Cuba”.
“How’s this still going? How is Hollywood ousting us but also stealing our narratives? No more appropriation Hollywood and streamers!” The “Encanto” star wrote about the decision to cast Franco, 44, who is of Jewish, Portuguese and Swedish descent.
“Boy out! It’s F’d up! Also it would be wrong to tell a seriously difficult story without upgrades!
“I don’t have a problem with Franco, but he’s not Latino!” The comedian concluded the “Spring Breakers” actor, whose reputation has also been linked to sexual harassment allegations, surfaced in the wake of #MeToo.
Leguizamo, 62, has been increasingly vocal about the representation of the Latino community in the media, especially Hollywood, over the years. In his 2018 Netflix standup special, “Latin History for Mores,” he combined the comedy with a legitimate history lesson — chalkboard and all — as he delved into the history of those natives of Latin America, as he announced, “Mayans et 1000 BC and then we have now.”
The “Alina of Cuba” filmmakers apparently justified the decision in light of the fact that Castro — born in Cuba to parents of Spanish, i.e. European, ancestry — was technically racially white.
“To arrive at such a difficult look to cast, we used Fidel Castro’s ancient Galician heraldry as our focal compass, and then sifted through the entire ranks of actors with Latin roots in Hollywood to find someone who Searched to find one that had a similar facial structure,” Lead creative producer John Martinez O’Phelan told Deadline,
He added the thought process behind the election, “In conducting a closer search in our candidates through the eyes of the Spanish and Portuguese ancestry that the Galicians had, we found that James, by far, had the closest facial resemblance.”
but In other coverage of the announcement, others couldn’t help but notice how O’Phelan’s explanation goes into “inconvenient details about the structure of Castro and Franco’s faces.” So much so that it turned into the phrenology and ‘race science’ of the 1840s” Alyssa Shotwell argued in The Mary Sue.
The reporter continued to note that “this bizarre conversation seemed like a retrospective way for the production team to make an excuse for hiring a non-Hispanic white man to play a white Latino.”
The indie film, which has no release date, will star Ana Villafane as Alina Fernandez, the daughter of a Cuban dictator.