John Leguizamo took to Instagram to speak out against the recent casting of James Franco as Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro in the upcoming independent film, “Alina of Cuba.” Variety confirmed Franco’s casting on August 4. “Elena of Cuba” is directed by Miguel Bardem, based on a script written by Jose Rivera and Nilo Cruz.
“How’s it still going?” Leguizamo asked his Instagram followers about Franco being cast as a Cuban historical figure. “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 didn’t find [problem] with Franco, but she’s not Latino!”
“Alina of Cuba” is set to begin production on August 15, with the crew shooting in Colombia. Franco will star alongside Ana Villafane, who portrays the title character Alina Fernandez, Castro’s daughter. The script follows Alina’s life as the illegitimate daughter of Castro and a critic of his regime in Cuba, before leaving the country and moving to Spain in 1993. Franco’s casting as Fidel Castro was supported by the real-life Fernández, who is starring in the film as one. On-set creative and biographical consultant.
The film’s supporting cast includes Alana de la Rosa, Maria Cecilia Botero, Harding Jr., Sean Chiong and Rafael Ernesto Hernandez. Mia Maestro also appears in the film as Alina’s mother, Natalia Revuelta, the Cuban socialite who gave birth to her after an affair with Castro.
Leguizamo often advocates for Latino representation in Hollywood, telling People magazine in 2020, “We are less than 1% of the stories told by Hollywood and streaming media and networks when we are about 20% of the population, 25% of the U.K. S. Box office. I feel like it’s such a loss to kids that they don’t reflect on themselves in positive ways.