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08th Aug 2022

Fidel Castro’s daughter approves of James Franco playing her dad – but not everyone is happy

Danny Jones

As well as the issue of representation, others are citing Franco’s sexual misconduct allegations

Alina Fernández, the daughter of Cuban revolutionary and dictator Fidel Castro, has expressed her support for James Franco playing her father in an upcoming independent film about her life – but not everyone is happy with the casting choice.

Speaking to Deadline, the now 66-year-old anti-communism activist and author says she finds “the selection of the cast amazing” and believes that Franco has “an obvious physical resemblance with Fidel Castro, besides his skills and charisma.”

Fernández, one of the most famous detractors of her father, added that she is pleased the upcoming biopic Alina of Cuba “is almost entirely Latino, both in front and behind the camera”, with her own character being played by Ana Villafañe (New Amsterdam, Los Americans, Max Steel) and the film comprised of a number of Latin actors, writers and producers.

That being said, many have taken issue with Franco’s casting as the significant cultural and historical figure ahead of someone with Latin ethnicity such as Pedro Pascal, Diego Luna or Oscar Isaac.

While the 44-year-old does have Portuguese heritage on his mother’s side – a country’s whose latin status is often debated – he is Caucasian and also of Swedish, Jewish and Russian Jewish descent.

Fellow actor John Leguizamo (Chef, Rome + Juliet, Encanto) is one of many who continues to call out Hollywood for whitewashing and excluding genuine actors of colour for ethnic roles, not to mention historic use of white actors simply using offensive black and brown face.

Posting last week, he asked: “How is this still going on?”, urging moviegoers to boycott the picture, adding that he believes Latinx are “the most excluded group in America” and calling for move Latin actors to secure lead roles.

The 62-year-old actor of Colombian heritage has since posted a video message responding to his own critics, stating that Latinos are “the oldest ethnic group in America after Native Americans” and since they make up approximately 30 per cent of the box office, they should get “30 per cent of the roles”.

He even addressed those pointing out that he’s played Italian in the likes of the Super Mario Bros. film and a Frenchman in Moulin Rouge, suggesting that even despite his own or other Latinx casting successes, minority actors have continued to be overlooked for most of the roles for decades.

Moreover, as alluded to in an aforementioned tweet, not only has Franco’s heritage be noted as an issue among those looking to boycott the film but many are taking the time remind audiences that Pineapple Express and Disaster Artist star still remains embroiled in a number of sexual misconduct allegations.

Franco has been out of the spotlight from around four years following a series of claims that he had inappropriate relationships with women, at least one of which was allegedly underage, not to mention accusations of workplace harassment and allegedly using an ‘acting school’ to manipulate individuals to have sex with him.

While he did admit to sex addiction and “abusing [his] power” on a number of occasions, he continues to deny some of the claims. Nevertheless, the likes of his long-time collaborator Seth Rogen insists he does not intend to work with him again and others are wondering how he is even able to renter the world of entertainment given the controversy.

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