‘Alina of Cuba’ producer John Martinez O’Felan hit back at John Leguizamo over his criticism of James Franco’s casting as Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro.
After James’ casting was announced, John, 62, fumed on Instagram: “How is this still going on? How is Hollywood excluding us but stealing our narratives as well?
“No more appropriation Hollywood and streamers! Boycott! This F’d up! 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!”
However, producer John Martinez hit back, calling Leguizamo “culturally uneducated”.
He told The Hollywood Reporter: “A guy like John Leguizamo has historically been looked up to by Hispanics as one of America’s earliest actors of Latin descent since the 90s and I’ve always admired him as a fellow underdog. But his comments are culturally uneducated and a blind attack with zero substance related to this project.
“The reality of the ignorance piece falls within his statement suggesting his personal view on being ‘Latino,’ because a land mass or living area does not determine a person’s blood history or genetics.
“His note is a great talking point because they represent the same confusion and identity crisis in Hollywood right now within the Hispanic community in America who are arguing that we should only identify as Latin, which is mostly because of the falsehoods being spread by the actors who are supposed to be representing us, but instead create division amongst their own people.
“I think he should move past himself and also acknowledge that this story is about a Latin female immigrant living in America who is of historical importance, led by a Latin woman and I’m just an underdog who is making it, so he should also understand that it’s kind of disappointing to see our work getting attacked by someone who claims to be a leader of the Latin community.”
The Castro film in which James is set to appear is being helmed by Spanish director Miguel Bardem.
He will be joined by actress Mía Maestro, 47, who will play the role of socialite Natalia ‘Naty’ Revuelta, Castro’s one-time mistress.
Ana Villafañe, 33, is playing the role of Alina Fernandez, daughter of Castro and Revuelta.
Written by Jose Rivera and Nilo Cruz it will show the life story of Cuban exile and social campaigner Fernandez, who found out aged 10 she was Castro’s daughter.
Fernandez became an anti-communism activist who was arrested multiple times for her attempts to flee Cuba, and banned from travelling outside the country. She defected to Spain in 1993 and settled in Miami.
The film will reportedly begin shooting August 15 in the Colombian cities of Cartagena and Bogota.