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After John Leguizamo criticized the casting of “not Latino” James Franco like Fidel Castro in the recently announced Aline from Cubaproducer Martínez O’Felan implored the Colombian actor to broaden his definition of Latino.
“Historically, Hispanics have looked up to a guy like John Leguizamo as one of the first American actors of Latino descent since the ’90s and I’ve always looked up to him as a fellow underdog. But his comments are culturally uneducated and a blind attack without substance related to this project.
The reality of the piece of ignorance falls within his statement suggesting his personal view of being ‘Latino,’ because a land mass or area of residence does not determine a person’s blood history or genetics.”
In addition, O’Felan emphasized in statements to The Hollywood Reporter that the film is not about Fidel. It’s about his daughter, Alina Fernández, whose unique story is being thrown off center by Leguizamo’s criticism of a secondary casting decision that Alina apparently supports:
“I think he should put himself behind and also recognize that this story is about a Latina immigrant living in the United States that is of historical importance, led by a Latina woman and I’m just an underdog making it, so I should also understand that it is a bit disappointing to see our work being attacked by someone who claims to be a leader of the Latino community.”
O’Felan isn’t the only person who feels defensive about Franco playing Castro. Fans have noted that Franco and Castro are descended from neighboring countries in Europe (Portugal and Spain, respectively). In addition, they have thwarted accusations of “whitening” by stating that “Latino” is not a race, since, among others, there are black Latinos, indigenous Latinos, and white Latinos. Castro would likely have fallen into the latter of those categories; Malcolm X called him “the only white person I’ve ever really liked.”
Finally, they have criticized Hollywood’s standard of ethnic purity as being unethical and untenable, as Leguizamo himself would fail if he played people of Asian and European descent (not to mention women).
No release date for Aline from Cubabut yes Juan from Colombia wants, the film will die during production, or will run out of James of America.