Aug 9, 2022 - World

The casting of James Franco as Fidel Castro sparks anger among Latinos

Images of James Franco and Fidel Castro next to each other.

James Franco and Fidel Castro. Photos: Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images (left) and Stig Nilsson/AFP via Getty Images

The casting of James Franco as Fidel Castro in the upcoming film, “Alina of Cuba,” is drawing fire from Latino actors, writers and activists.

Driving the news: Variety got confirmation last week that Franco, who is not Hispanic, will star opposite Ana Villafañe, who portrays the title character Alina Fernández Revuelta, Castro’s daughter.

What they're saying: Colombian-born actor John Leguizamo took to Instagram to denounce the casting.

  • “How is this still going on? How is Hollywood excluding us but stealing our narratives as well? No more appropriation Hollywood and streamers!” Leguizamo posted.
  • “I don’t got a prob with Franco but he ain’t Latino!” Leguizamo added.

The other side: “To get there on such a tough look to cast, we used Fidel Castro’s ancient Galician (heritage) as our focal compass, and then combed through the entire ranks of actors with Latin roots in Hollywood to find someone who has a similar facial structure,” lead creative producer John Martinez O’Felan told Deadline.

The intrigue: Latinos accounted for only 5.4% of movie leads and 5.7% of actors in any screen role in 2020, the annual Hollywood Diversity Report by UCLA's Social Sciences College shows.

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