Fidel Castro’s daughter Alina Fernández has endorsed James Franco’s casting as her father in a movie about her life.
Last week, Emmy award-winning actor John Leguizamo called out “Alina of Cuba” producers after it was announced that Franco would be playing the late Cuban revolutionary leader and called for people to boycott the independent movie.
“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!” Leguizamo wrote on Instagram. “I don’t got a prob with Franco but he ain’t Latino!”
Fernández, who was an outspoken critic of her father’s rule, endorsed Franco in a statement to Deadline a day after Leguizamo’s comments and said she was proud that the movie is “almost entirely Latino, both in front and behind the camera.”
Fernández added: “James Franco has an obvious physical resemblance with Fidel Castro, besides his skills and charisma.”
Fernández also praised the rest of the cast, including Ana Villafañe, who will play her, and Mía Maestro, who will play the activist’s mother, Natalia “Naty” Revuelta.
“Ana Villafañe is extraordinarily talented, and not only as an actress because she is also a great singer, a very complete performer,” Fernández said. “I’m sure that Mía Maestro, an actress I admire, will understand and interpret Naty, my mother, in a unique way and I can’t wait to see her building her character.”
She continued: “To me, the most important thing about this movie is that the conversation about Cuba is alive. Personally, the experience is so far too unexpected but more than anything, humbling.”
Last week, the producer of the movie, John Martinez O’Felan, also defended Franco’s casting in a statement to 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,” O’Felan said. “But his comments are culturally uneducated and a blind attack with zero substance related to this project.”
The producer added: “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.”
This will be Franco’s first role since 2019 after the “127 Hours” actor was accused of sexual misconduct by several women online and in a 2018 Los Angeles Times article.
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