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John Leguizamo slams James Franco casting as Fidel Castro in new biopic

A heated argument ensues between John Leguizamo and the makers of the upcoming movie Alina of Cuba as Leguizamo slams James Franco’s casting as Fidel Castro in the new biopic

When the news about James Franco playing Fidel Castro, a former Cuban dictator,  in the upcoming film Alina of Cuba broke out, the fact that a white man would play a Latino didn't settle well with a few—including the American actor John Leguizamo.

He slammed the casting decision on Instagram by vehemently criticizing the casting decision for Miguel Bardem's upcoming movie, calling it yet another instance of cultural appropriation.

Alina of Cuba A little about the film

The film revolved around the life of Alina Fernández (Ana Villafañe), the illegitimate daughter of Castro and a socialite Natalia Revuelta. When her mother finally confessed their affair to her at age 10, she learns the truth about her ancestry.

She would then grow up to be a passionate opponent of her father's government, facing several arrests. She eventually made her way from Cuba to Spain in 1993, ultimately settling in the US.

What did John Leguizamo Say?

John Leguizamo routinely campaigns for increased Hispanic representation in Hollywood. He expressed his resentment by saying,

“How is this still going on? How is Hollywood excluding us but stealing our narratives as well? No more appropriation Hollywood and streamers! Boycott! This F’d up! Plus seriously difficult story to tell without aggrandizement, which would b wrong! I don’t got a problem with Franco, but he ain’t Latino!”

He later uploaded a clip detailing his personal encounters with discrimination in Hollywood. His caption read,

“Latin exclusion in Hollywood is real. Don’t get it twisted! Long long history of it! And appropriation of our stories even longer! Why can’t Latinxers play Latin roles? Why can’t we play lead roles? Why can’t they flip white roles to Latin guys and gals?”

How did John Martinez O'Felan respond to the allegations by John Leguizamo?

In a statement from The Hollywood Reporter, Leguizamo's remarks were addressed by the movie's producer, John Martinez O'Felan. He wrote

“A guy like John Leguizamo has historically been looked up to by Hispanics as one of America’s earliest actors of Latin descent since the 90s, and I’ve always admired him as a fellow underdog. But his comments are culturally uneducated and a blind attack with zero substance related to this project.”

John Leguizamo

He went on to say that the movie is based on the real story of a Cuban woman, and the crew is mainly composed of Latinx individuals. In light of that, he thinks Leguizamo should support the project. He wrote,

“I think he should move past himself and also acknowledge that this story is about a Latin female immigrant living in America who is of historical importance, led by a Latin woman. I’m just an underdog who is making it, so he should also understand that it’s kind of disappointing to see our work getting attacked by someone who claims to be a leader of the Latin community.”

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