James Franco Casting for Role of Fidel Castro in “Alina Of Cuba” Stimulates Online Backlash and Industry

James Franco, who was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women in 2018, was cast to play Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro in “Alina of Cuba”. The independent film will tell the story of Castro’s daughter, Alina Fernandez, according to Deadline.

Fernandez was 10 when he learned that Castro was his biological father. She later became a staunch anti-Castro activist and was arrested multiple times as a dissident for attempting to flee the Communist nation before successfully defecting to Spain in 1993.

Fernandez will serve as creative and biographical consultant on the set, and the project was written by Oscar-nominated screenwriter José Rivera and Cuban Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz. But Franco’s casting has already provoked negative reactions, particularly from his fellow actors.

“How is this still happening?” John Leguizamo wrote on the Instagram post on Friday. “How does Hollywood still shut us out but also steal our narratives? No more Hollywood and streamer appropriation! Boycott! This is fine!”

“Plus a really hard story to tell without magnification that would be wrong!” Leguizamo adds. “I don’t have a problem with Franco but he’s not Latin!”

“I’m auditioning for another generic Latin American drug dealer and James Franco is an idiot who plays Fidel Castro”, tweeted actor Jeff Torres. “Latin Americans get dirty out here and everywhere.”

Lead creative producer John Martinez O’Felan told Deadline that the casting was carefully considered, however, and that it “scoured the entire rank of Latin-rooted actors in Hollywood.” He noted that Franco, a quarter Portuguese, had a “close physical resemblance” to Castro.

O’Felan told Deadline that his team focused specifically on actors of Spanish and Portuguese descent because Galicians like Castro shared that ancestry. He said that Franco was chosen to have “the closest facial resemblance” and that he was able to “find someone Alina Fernandez would strongly approve of”.

O’Felan stated that “the goal has been to produce an artistic piece of modern Hispanic history, with the vision of the project as truly inclusive through the union of actors and creatives of intergenerational and recent Latin origins from the United States, Latin America and the world. “

The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California’s School for Communication and Journalism responded to the news on Twitter countering the cancellation of “more Latinx shows” with Franco’s casting: “No wonder there is so little progress in this city”.

The supporting cast includes Cuban actors Sian Chiong and Rafael Ernesto Hernandez, as well as María Cecilia Botero from “Encanto”. Filming on “Alina of Cuba” will begin in Cartagena and Bogotà, Colombia, later this month with colonial architecture mimicking that of Havana.