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Fidel Castro’s daughter may have been a passionate critic of her real-life dad, but she’s lending her support to her on-screen one. Alina Fernandez told Deadline that she approves of James Franco’s casting in Alina of Cuba, the biopic about her life as the illegitimate child of the Cuban revolutionary. “James Franco has an obvious physical resemblance with Fidel Castro, besides his skills and charisma,” said Fernández, who serves as a biographical and historical consultant on the movie.
The role marks part of a return to acting for Franco, who has been largely out of the spotlight for several years due to sexual-misconduct from women who were his acting students. Fernández’s defense of Franco comes after several actors have cast his casting for another reason. John Leguizamo called for a boycott of the movie, which he described in two Instagram posts as “appropriation.” “This F’d-up!” he wrote. “Plus seriously difficult story to tell without aggrandizement which would b wrong! I don’t got a prob with Franco but he ain’t Latino!” SWAT actor Jeff Torres echoed a similar sentiment on Twitter, writing, “I’m auditioning for another generic Latin-American drug dealer and James Franco is dead ass playing Fidel Castro. Latinos gettin’ done dirty af out here and everywhere. Damn lol.” Franco is reportedly of Portuguese and Swedish descent on his father’s side, and Russian Jewish descent on his mother’s side.
In addition to Franco, Alina of Cuba also stars Ana Villafañe as Fernández and Mía Maestro as Naty Revuelta. The supporting cast includes Alanna de la Rosa, Encanto‘s Maria Cecilia Botero, Harding Junior, Sian Chiong, and Rafael Ernesto Hernandez. “The rest of the cast is going to be a wonderful surprise for all audiences,” said Fernández. “The filmmakers worked a lot and I can’t be more grateful to them for their overall selection.” Directed by Miguel Bardem and written by Oscar nominee Jose Rivera and Pulitzer Prize winner Nilo Cruz, Alina of Cuba is scheduled to begin production on August 15.