Producer responds after John Leguizamo brands James Franco casting as ‘f***ed up’
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The producer of the new Fidel Castro biopic has hit back at criticism over the casting of James Franco as the former Cuban leader.
Alina of Cuba is based on the true story of Alina Fernandez, a Cuban exile who learned that she was Castro's daughter.
When news broke that Franco had been cast as the revolutionary, many people were shocked, including fellow actor John Leguizamo.
He took to social media this week to share his disbelief at a white actor being cast to play the Cuban leader.
In a post to Instagram, the 62-year-old said: "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 prob with Franco but he ain't Latino!"
However, in light of the criticism, producer John Martinez O'Felan has spoken out, claiming his comments were 'uneducated'.
He told The Hollywood Reporter: "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.
"The reality of the ignorance piece falls within his statement suggesting his personal view on being 'Latino', because a land mass or living area does not determine a person's blood history or genetics."
O'Felan went on: "Finding and convincing James Franco to play Castro, was a fun and challenging process and has been the collaborative work of the universe, because our director's original order was to find an actor who holds a close physical resemblance to the real Castro to build from, along with finding someone Alina Fernandez would strongly endorse."
The producer said Leguizamo's comments were actually a useful tool in discussing issues surrounding ethnicity within the industry at present.
He told the site that his 'note is 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 falsehoods being spread by the actors who are supposed to be representing us, but instead create division amongst their own people'.
But he said it was 'kind of disappointing' to have his 'work attacked by someone who claims to be a leader of the Latin community'.
On Thursday (4 August) Deadline reported that Franco would appear alongside Mía Maestro in Miguel Bardem’s upcoming biopic.
Maestro is set to portray Natalia 'Naty' Revuelta, the Cuban socialite who Castro had a passionate affair with, while Ana Villafañe has landed the role as their daughter Alina Fernández.
Production on the the movie is reportedly set to start on 15 August.
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