After John Leguizamo criticized James Franco’s portrayal of Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro in the independent film Alina from CubaProducer John Martinez O’Phelan responded, calling the comments “culturally uneducated”.
Set to be directed by Miguel Bardem and based on a screenplay by Jose Rivera and Nilo Cruz, Franco stars opposite Mia Maestro, who portrays Natalia “Nati” Revuelta, a Cuban-born socialite with whom Castro romantically entangles. The film is based on the true story of Alina Fernandez – played by Ana Villafini – a Cuban exile turned social advocate who learns at the age of 10 that she is Castro’s daughter.
Leguizamo, a Colombian American actor who wrote and performed a Broadway production Latin history of the countrytook to Instagram on Friday to criticize Franco’s casting decision, asking why Hollywood “excludes” the Latinx community and noting that a film about Castro is “a very difficult story to tell without exaltation.”
“How does this still happen?” Leguizamo, who has previously been vocal about Latinx not being represented in Hollywood, said about the casting. “How does Hollywood exclude us but also steal our novels? No more Hollywood customization and streamers! Boycott! This F’d arrive! Plus a very difficult story to tell without exaggeration, that would be wrong! I don’t have a problem with Franco but he’s not Latin!”
In response, film producer O’Felan said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter He likes Leguizamo but his comments are “a blind attack”.
“A man like John Leguizamo has historically been viewed by Latinos as one of the first Hispanic American actors since the 1990s, and I’ve always admired him as an underdog fellow. But his comments are culturally uneducated and a blind attack devoid of any substance associated with this project.”
“The truth of the piece of ignorance lies in his statement suggesting his personal view of being ‘Latino’, because land mass or living area does not determine a person’s blood history or genetics,” he continues.
O’Villain goes on to say that “Leguizamo’s remark is a wonderful talking point because it represents the same confusion and identity crisis in Hollywood at the moment within the Latino community in America who argue that we should only identify as Latin, and that is mostly because of the lies spread by the actors who are supposed to to represent us, but instead create division among their people.”
The producer concludes that Leguizamo’s criticism ultimately detracts from who the film is about: Fernandez.
“I think he has to transcend himself and also acknowledge that this story is about a Latina immigrant who lives in America and has historical significance, led by a Latina woman and I’m just an underdog doing that, so he also has to realize that it’s kind of disappointing to see our work come under attack by someone claiming to be the leader of the Latin community.”
Alina from Cuba It features cast and crew from “at least seven countries from all over the world” according to O’Velan, with production design by Carlos Osorio, editing by Diego Fernando Bustamante, costume design by Daniela Rivano and Juan Carlos Gil as director of photography. Nana Fisher, who has collaborated frequently with Franco, will serve as the head of his makeup team while Jessica Drake will serve as the tone coach for the lead cast.
Alanna de la Rosa, Maria Cecilia Botero, Harding Junior, Sian Chiong and Rafael Ernesto Hernandez are among the film’s supporting cast, and filming is set to begin August 15 in the Colombian cities of Cartagena and Bogota.
This is Franco’s first role since the 2019 animated film arctic dogs and HBO . series evil. The Oscar-winning actor has been accused of Los Angeles Times A report in 2018 by several women about sexually exploitative behavior after winning a Golden Globe award Disaster artist. In 2021, Franco settled a sexual misconduct lawsuit brought by actresses Sarah Tether Kaplan and Tony Gal – former students of Studio 4 where he now works. He wasn’t with anyone in his class.