We haven’t talked or written about James Franco in nearly two and a half years. I would have happily ignored him for the rest of my life, but here we are. In January 2018, Franco was finally exposed for his poor treatment of (often young) women. Former coworkers and the young female students at his “acting school” spoke about how he sexually exploited them and harassed them, and he was just overall a giant creep. Franco halfway disappeared for a few years, only popping up to whine about how the accusations “tarnished a decent man’s reputation.” Now that the Me Too movement has been maimed by misogynists and the Pick Me women, Franco is angling for a comeback. His comeback vehicle is apparently… playing Fidel Castro in a movie. So now the Latino actors are pissed off.
Oscar nominee and 2x Golden Globe winner James Franco will play Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Miguel Bardem’s Alina of Cuba with Imagen Award winner Mía Maestro set to play Natalia “Naty” Revuelta, the Cuban-born socialite he has a passionate love affair with.
They join previously announced actress Ana Villafañe who is portraying Alina Fernandez aka Castro’s Daughter. The screenplay from Oscar-nominated scribe Jose Rivera (The Motorcycle Diaries) and Pulitzer Prize winner Nilo Cruz, follows the true-life story of Cuban exile turned social advocate, Fernandez, whose birth was the result of the tryst between Revuelta and Castro. Revuelta sacrificed her and her physician husband’s personal belongings and finances to help fund the start of the communist revolution. Fernandez learned that she was Fidel Castro’s daughter at the age of 10 when after years of secret visits to her home, her mother finally revealed that “El Comandante” was her biological father. Alina grew to become one of Castro’s most outspoken critics, arrested on more than one occasion for trying to leave, and was classified as a dissident forbidden to travel outside of Cuba. Ultimately, she defected to Spain in 1993, an event that drew headlines from every major news network around the world, before she made Miami her permanent home.
Again, James Franco is not Cuban or Latino or Hispanic or even a fluent Spanish speaker. Franco is just going to turn up on set on August 15th and try to simper and vibe his way through playing…Fidel Castro…??? Arguably one of the most famous and recognizable Cubans in history? John Leguizamo had some thoughts:
John Leguizamo thinks the casting of James Franco as Cuban revolution leader Fidel Castro is no bueno. That’s “no good,” for those of you who aren’t Latino. Like Franco.
Deadline exclusively broke the news earlier this week that Franco, 44, will be playing Castro in the indie film Alina of Cuba. That spawned an Instagram eruption today from Leguizamo, who ranted against having a non-Latino actor in the role.
“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!”
He added, “I don’t got a prob with Franco but he ain’t Latino!”
His comments struck a nerve, drawing 10,000 likes, including new The View cohost Ana Navarro, who said she would join a boycott of the film.
“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,” Navarro wrote. “For both reasons you articulated, I join you in the boycott.”
I sort of disagree with Navarro simply because… that IS a meaty role for an actor. A Latino actor. A Cuban actor, or an actor of Cuban descent. Actors portray bad or evil men all the time. Actors are cast to play Adolf Hitler and various Nazis. They can dramatize a section of Castro’s life and make this movie, that’s not really my issue. My issue is what John said – it’s simply not Franco’s story to tell. Castro is not Franco’s character to play.
PS… Who should have been cast? Leguizamo would have been great. Benicio del Toro, no lie. Demian Bichir would have been perfect? They probably wouldn’t cast Oscar Isaac because then every woman would want to bang Castro.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.