- “Alina of Cuba” producer John Martinez O’Felan responded to actor John Leguizamo’s criticism.
- Leguizamo took to Instagram on Friday to call out James Franco’s casting as Fidel Castro in the film.
- In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, O’Felan said Leguizamo’s comments were “culturally illiterate.”
The producer of “Alina of Cuba” has responded to John Leguizamo’s criticism of James Franco’s casting as Fidel Castro in the film, describing the actor’s comments as a “blind attack with zero substance.”
Leguizamo, a notable Colombian-American actor, called out the film and entertainment industry on Friday Instagram. After sharing a screenshot of it Deadline article Announcing that Franco would play the late Cuban revolutionary leader, Leguizamo called for a boycott of the film in the caption. According to IMDb“Alina of Cuba” is currently in pre-production.
“How is this still going on? How is Hollywood excluding us but also stealing our narratives? Stop appropriating Hollywood and streamers! Boycott! Leguizamo wrote. “Also, a very difficult story to tell without endorsement, which would be wrong ! I don’t have a problem with Franco, but he’s not Latino!”
On Saturday, Leguizamo share a video on Instagram, stressing that he has no issue with Franco and expanded on his experience as a Latino in film.
“I grew up in a time when Latinos couldn’t play Latinos in film,” she said in the video, listing actors and actresses who have played Latinx characters on screen. “Do we appropriate our stories? Not anymore. I’m done with it.”
In a long statement to the Hollywood Reporter On Friday, the film’s producer John Martinez O’Felan said he respected Leguizamo but ultimately disagreed with her remarks.
“A guy like John Leguizamo has historically been considered by Hispanics as one of America’s first Latin American actors since the 90s, and I’ve always admired him as a fellow outsider. But his comments are culturally uneducated and a blind attack with zero substance related to this work’.
He continued: “The reality of the ignorance piece falls within his statement that suggests his personal view of being ‘Latino’ because a land or area of residence does not determine a person’s blood history or genetics.”
O’Felan noted that Leguizamo’s comments were a “great talking point” because they represent the identity crisis many Latinos and Hispanics face in Hollywood and America.
The producer, who also called himself an “outsider,” said he was disappointed that Leguizamo chose to denounce the film instead of focusing on the story it’s telling.
“I think he should get over himself and also recognize that this story is about a Latina immigrant living in America and it’s historically important, led by a Latina…” she said.
Reps for Franco, Leguizamo and O’Felan did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
“Alina of Cuba” is based on the true story of Alina Fernandez, a Cuban activist who discovered she is Castro’s daughter at age 10, reports THR. According to the Washington PostFernandez, an outspoken critic of her father’s rule, was granted political asylum in the United States in 1993.
Deadline reports that Fernandez will be played by Cuban American actress Ana Villafañe. Argentinian actress Mía Maestro will play Natalia “Naty” Revuelta, Fernandez’s mother.
THR notes that Franco’s role as Castro is one of his first since HBO’s “The Deuce” and the 2019 film “Artic Dogs.” In 2018, Franco was accused of sexual harassment by several women online and in a Los Angeles Times article. Insider’s Kelly McLaughlin and Jason Guerrasio reported in 2021 that the actor agreed to pay more than $2 million to settle a lawsuit alleging he pushed students to act out sex scenes at his now-defunct Studio 4 acting school .