Following criticisms of John Leguizamo as Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro, producer John Martinez O’Phelan has responded, calling the comments “culturally illiterate”.
Directed by Miguel Bardem and based on a script written by Jose Rivera and Nilo Cruz, Franco stars opposite Mia Maestro, who portrays the Cuban-born socialite Natalia “Natty” Ravuelta, with whom Castro would become romantically involved. Huh. The film is based on the true-life story of Alina Fernandez – played by Ana Villafane – turned social advocate from Cuban exile who learns at age 10 that she is Castro’s daughter.
Leguizamo, a Colombian American actor who wrote and performed in the Broadway production Latin History for Morons, took to Instagram on Friday to criticize the decision to cast Franco, questioning whether Hollywood is “outing” the Latinx community. Why is doing and notes that a film on Castro is a “seriously difficult story to tell without seriousness.”
“How’s it still going?” Leguizamo, who has previously been vocal about the lack of Latinx representation in Hollywood, said of the casting. “How is Hollywood ousting us but also stealing our narratives? No more appropriation Hollywood and streamers! Boycott! It’s Fed Up! Plus a seriously difficult story to tell without upgrading, which would be wrong! I don’t have a problem with Franco, but she’s not Latino!”
In response, O’Phelan, the film’s producer, said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter that he admires Leguizamo but that his remarks are a “blind attack.”
“A man like John Leguizamo has historically been viewed by Hispanics as one of the earliest actors in Latin America since the ’90s and I have always admired him as a fellow underdog. But his The comments are culturally illiterate and a blind attack with zero substance relating to this project.”
“The reality of the piece of ignorance falls within his statement suggesting his personal point of view on being ‘Latino’, as a land mass or area of living does not determine an individual’s blood history or genetics,” he adds. Huh.
O’Phelan went on to say that Leguizamo’s “notes are a great thing because they represent the same confusion and identity crisis in Hollywood that is happening right now within the Hispanic community in America who are arguing that we can only identify as Latin.” Which is mostly because of the lies being spread by actors who are supposed to represent us, but instead create division among their own people.”
The producers concluded that Leguizamo’s criticism ultimately detracts from who the film is about: Fernández.
“I think he should get ahead of himself and acknowledge that this story is about a Latin female immigrant living in America, of historical importance, led by a Latin woman and I I am only a Dalit woman who is making this, so she should also understand that it is disappointing to see our work being attacked by someone who claims to be the leader of the Latin community.”
According to O’Phelan, Cuba’s Alina has a cast and crew from “at least seven countries around the world”, with production design by Carlos Osorio, editing by Diego Fernando Bustamante, costume design by Daniela Rivano and director. Including Juan Carlos Gil. photography. Nana Fischer, who has frequently collaborated with Franco, will serve as the head of their makeup team, while Jessica Drake will serve as the lead cast’s dialect coach.
Alana de la Rosa, María Cecilia Botero, Harding Jr., Cian Chiong and Rafael Ernesto Hernández are among the supporting cast of the film, which is set to begin filming on August 15 in the Colombian cities of Cartagena and Bogota.
The role is Franco’s first since the 2019 animated film Artic Dogs and the HBO series The Deuce. The Oscar-winning actor was accused of sexual abuse by multiple women in 2018, the LA Times reported, following his Golden Globes win for The Disaster Artist. In 2021, Franco settled a sexual misconduct lawsuit filed by actresses Sarah Tether-Kaplan and Tony Gaal — alumnus of his now-defunct acting school Studio 4. Franco’s lawyers denied the allegations, but the actor admitted to sleeping with the students, although he said it was not with anyone in his class.