Alina Of Cuba’s producer John Martinez O’Felan hits back at John Leguizamo’s criticism of James Franco’s casting as former Cuban president Fidel Castro, calling them “culturally uneducated.”
The film is based on the true story of Alina Fernandez, played by Ana Villafañe, a Cuban exile turned social advocate who discovers at the age of 10 that she is Castro’s daughter. The Hollywood Reporter.
Franco stars opposite Mía Maestro, who plays Natalia “Naty” Revuelta, a Cuban-born socialite who develops a romantic relationship with Castro.
Casting controversy: Lead creative producer for Alina Of Cuba, John Martinez O’Felan, responded to John Leguizamo’s criticism that Franco was hired to play Fidel Castro, calling her “culturally uneducated”
Leguizamo, a Colombian-American actor, took to Instagram on Friday vehemently condemned the choice of director Miguel Bardem’s new film, calling it yet another example of cultural appropriation, as Franco has no Latin roots.
‘How’s this going? How does Hollywood exclude us, but also steal our stories?’ said Leguizamo, who has long been an advocate for the inclusion of Latin actors and their stories told on screen.
He continued: ‘No more appropriation Hollywood and streamers! Boycott! This F’d up! Plus seriously hard story to tell without glorification, which would be wrong! I do not have [problem] with Franco, but he’s not Latino!’
Admiring the introduction, he admires Leguizamo, but producer John Martinez O’Felan hits back at his comments about Franco being hired to play a Latino.
His take: Leguizamo, 62, accused the team behind Alina Of Cuba of “excluding” Latinos while “stealing our story” and then called on people to boycott the biopic
“A man like John Leguizamo is historically regarded by Hispanics as one of America’s earliest actors of Latin descent since the 1990s, and I’ve always admired him as a fellow underdog. But his comments are culturally uneducated and a blind attack with no content related to this project,” he said.
“The reality of the piece of ignorance falls within his statement which suggests his personal view of being ‘Latino’ because a landmass or habitat does not determine a person’s blood history or genetics,” O’Felan continued.
O’Felan called Leguizamo’s note “a great topic of conversation because they represent the same confusion and identity crisis in Hollywood right now within the Hispanic community in America that claims we should only identify as Latin, mainly because of the lies that are spread.” are spread by the actors who are supposed to represent us, but instead create divisions among their own people.”
Fighting Back: While expressing his admiration for Leguizamo in response, producer John Martinez O’Felan called his comments “culturally uneducated and a blind attack with no substance related to this project,” in an interview with THR; seen in march in hollywood
According to ColliderFranco’s casting came after an extensive search for the best possible physical fit to play Castro among the best actors in the industry, and was immediately approved by Fernandez.
Franco is of Portuguese and Swedish descent on his father’s side, and Russian Jewish descent on his mother’s side.
“Finding and convincing James Franco to play Castro has been a fun and challenging process and it’s been the collaborative work of the universe because our director’s original brief was to find an actor who had a strong physical resemblance.” shows with the real Castro to build from, along with finding someone who would strongly support Alina Fernandez,” O’Felan explained.
He went on to reveal that they used “Fidel Castro’s old Galician heraldry” as their focal compass, then scoured the long list of actors with Latin roots in Hollywood to find someone with a similar facial structure.
“In conducting a close examination of our hopeful people through the eye of the Spanish and Portuguese genealogies that the Galicians had, we found that James bore by far the most resemblance to the protagonists in our industry,” revealed the lead creative producer of the movie.
Casting Quest: Franco’s casting came after an extensive search for the best possible physical fit to play Castro among the best actors in the industry, and was immediately approved by Alina Fernandez, the real woman the film is based on, O’Felan has added
Finally, the producer made it a point to emphasize that the film does not focus on Franco’s character.
“I think he needs to go beyond himself and also recognize that this story is about a Latin female immigrant living in America who is historically significant, led by a Latin woman and I’m just an underdog making it, so he would also understand that it is a little disappointing to see our work being attacked by someone claiming to be a leader of the Latin community,” O’Felan added.
Directed by Miguel Bardem and based on a script written by Jose Rivera and Nilo Cruz, the cast also includes Alanna de la Rosa, Maria Cecilia Botero, Harding Junior, Sian Chiong and Rafael Ernesto Hernandez.
Shooting for Alina Of Cuba is scheduled for August 15.