James Franco Producer Responds to John Leguizamo Castro’s Criticism – The Hollywood Reporter

Following John Leguizamo’s criticism of James Franco’s casting as Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro in the independent film Alina from Cubaproducer John Martinez O’Felan has responded, calling the comments “culturally uneducated”.

Set to be directed by Miguel Bardem and based on a screenplay written by José Rivera and Nilo Cruz, Franco stars alongside Mía Maestro, who plays Natalia “Naty” Revuelta, a Cuban-born socialite with whom Castro becomes romantically intertwined. The film is based on the true story of Alina Fernández, played by Ana Villafañe, a Cuban exile turned social defender who finds out at the age of 10 that she is the daughter of Castro.

Leguizamo, a Colombian American actor who wrote and performed in the Broadway production. latin history for moronstook to Instagram on Friday to criticize the decision to cast Franco, questioning why Hollywood is “excluding” the Latinx community and noting that a film about Castro is a “very difficult story to tell without aggrandizement.”

“How come this keeps happening?” Leguizamo, who has previously spoken out about the lack of Latinx representation in Hollywood, said of the casting. “How is it that Hollywood excludes us but also steals our narratives? No more Hollywood grabs and streamers! Boycott! It’s fucked! Also, it’s a very difficult story to tell without aggrandizement, which would be wrong! I have no problem with Franco, but he is not Latino! ”.

In response, O’Felan, the film’s producer, said in a statement to the hollywood reporter that he admires Leguizamo but that his comments are a “blind attack”.

“Historically, Hispanics have looked up to a guy like John Leguizamo as one of the first American actors of Latino descent since the ’90s and I’ve always looked up to him as a fellow underdog. But his comments are culturally uneducated and a blind attack without substance related to this project”.

“The reality of the piece of ignorance falls within his statement suggesting his personal view of being ‘Latino,’ because a land mass or area of ​​residence does not determine a person’s blood history or genetics,” he continues.

O’Felan goes on to say that Leguizamo’s “note is a great talking point because it represents the same confusion and identity crisis in Hollywood right now within the Hispanic community in the United States that argues that we should only identify as Latino, that we It is mainly due to the untruths spread by actors who are supposed to represent us, but instead create division among their own people.”

The producer concludes that Leguizamo’s criticism ultimately detracts from who the film is about: Fernández.

“I think he should put himself behind and also recognize that this story is about a Latina immigrant living in the United States that is of historical importance, led by a Latina woman and I’m just an underdog making it, so I should also understand that it is a little disappointing to see our work being attacked by someone who claims to be a leader of the Latino community,” he says.

Alina from Cuba features a cast and crew from “at least seven nations from around the world” according to O’Felan, with production design by Carlos Osorio, editing by Diego Fernando Bustamante, costume design by Daniela Rivano, and Juan Carlos Gil serving as director of photography . Nana Fisher, who has frequently collaborated with Franco, will serve as the head of his makeup team, while Jessica Drake will serve as the main cast’s dialect coach.

Alanna de la Rosa, María Cecilia Botero, Harding Junior, Sian Chiong and Rafael Ernesto Hernández are among the supporting cast of the film, whose filming is scheduled to begin on August 15 in the Colombian cities of Cartagena and Bogotá.

The role marks one of Franco’s first since the 2019 animated film. arctic dogs and the hbo series the two. The Oscar-winning actor was accused in a Los Angeles Times report in 2018 by multiple women of sexually exploitative behavior following their Golden Globes win for the disaster artist. In 2021, Franco settled a sexual misconduct lawsuit brought by actresses Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, alumni of his now-defunct Studio 4 acting school. Franco’s attorneys denied the allegations, but the actor admitted to sleeping with students. , although he claimed it was not with anyone of his class.

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