John Leguizamo says it's 'f****d up' James Franco is playing Fidel Castro

Lisa McLoughlin

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John Leguizamo says it's 'f****d up' James Franco is playing Fidel Castro

Featured Image Credit: dpa picture alliance/Independent Photo Agency Srl/Alamy Stock Photo

Colombian-born actor John Leguizamo has spoken out against James Franco being cast as Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro in an upcoming film.

It was announced this week that the 44-year-old American would be playing Castro in the indie project titled, Alina of Cuba.

In light of the casting news, Lequizamo, 62, took to his Instagram on Friday (6 August) to air his grievances against Franco portraying the Latin leader.

The Romeo + Juliet star, who grew up in Queens, New York, wrote: "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!"

The post garnered almost 18,000 likes in 24 hours and even attracted comment from The View Ana Navarro, who told Leguizamo that she would 'join' him in boycotting the film.

She wrote: "I’d like to think no Latino actor worth their salt would sign up to play and aggrandize a murderous dictator who terrorized the people of Cuba for six decades.

"For both reasons you articulated, I join you in the boycott."

On Thursday (4 August) Deadline reported that Franco will appear alongside Mía Maestro in Miguel Bardem’s upcoming biopic Alina of Cuba.

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.

James Franco. Credit: Independent Photo Agency Srl/Alamy
James Franco. Credit: Independent Photo Agency Srl/Alamy

Speaking about the decision to cast Franco, producer John Martinez O’Felan told the outlet: "Finding and convincing James Franco to play Castro, was a fun and challenging process and has been the collaborative work of the universe."

He said that the 'director’s original order was to find an actor who holds a close physical resemblance to the real Castro', while also looking for someone who 'Alina Fernandez would strongly endorse'.

O’Felan continued: "To get there on such a tough look to cast, we used Fidel Castro’s ancient Galician heraldry as our focal compass, and then combed through the entire ranks of actors with Latin roots in Hollywood to find someone who has a similar facial structure.

"In executing a close search into our hopefuls through the eye of Spanish and Portuguese genealogy which the Galicians held, we found that James, by far, had the closest facial likeness of our industry’s leading actors."

Franco will play the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Credit: Creative Commons
Franco will play the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Credit: Creative Commons

The feature marks Franco's return to the big screen, after multiple women came forward in 2018, including four of his former pupils, at the height of the #MeToo movement, accusing him of behaviour that was sexually inappropriate or exploitative.

Actors Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal then filed a lawsuit in 2019 alleging that Franco had engaged in 'sexually-charged behaviour towards female students' at his now-defunct acting school.

Franco had said the initial allegations made against him in 2018 were ‘not accurate’, but last year it was reported he had agreed to pay $2.23m (£1.67m) to settle the lawsuit. 

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Topics: Film & TV, Film and TV

Lisa McLoughlin
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