HOLLYWOOD (KTLA) – John Leguizamo is taking to social media to slam Hollywood executives for casting James Franco as the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Franco has yet to respond to the backlash to his casting.
“How is this still going on? How is Hollywood excluding us, but stealing our narratives as well?” Leguizamo asked on Instagram. “No more appropriation Hollywood and streamers! Boycott! This F’d up!”
Leguizamo’s post came in response to a Deadline article reporting on the announcement that Franco, who is white, would star opposite Mía Maestro in the upcoming independent film “Alina of Cuba.” Maestro will play Natalia “Naty” Revuelta, a Cuban-born socialite who had an affair with Castro. The film will reportedly follow the life of Castro and Revuelta’s daughter, Alina Fernandez, a “Cuban exile turned social advocate.”
Leguizamo, who lives in Upstate New York and is a staunch advocate for Latino representation in television and film, explained why he believes the casting decision wasn’t a good call. “Seriously difficult story to tell without aggrandizement,” Leguizamo continued. He added that he doesn’t have a problem with James Franco as an actor, “but he ain’t Latino!”
John Martinez O’Felan, the film’s lead producer, had told Deadline the production chose Franco after searching through “the entire ranks of actors with Latin roots in Hollywood to find someone who has a similar facial structure” to Castro, who had “Galician heraldry,” or roots in northwest Spain, O’Felan noted.
“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,” added O’Felan, perhaps in reference to Franco being of partial Portuguese descent on his father’s side.
Leguizamo, meanwhile, was recently touted by the L.A. Times for merging his own New York-based digital media company, NGL Collective, “with GoDigital Media Group’s mitú, an LA-based digital media company that creates stories and videos targeting Latino audiences.”
The Times reported that the acquisition is “valued at more than $60 million and will create what the companies describe as the ‘largest digital first Latinx media powerhouse’ in the U.S..’ The combined company of mitú and NGL will have more than 90 employees, 92% of which are Latinx.”
“Alina of Cuba” is set to begin filming on Aug. 15 in Havana, Cuba, according to reports.