“Alina de Cuba” producer John Martinez O’Felan has hit back at John Leguizamo for his criticism of James Franco’s casting as Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro.
Following James’ casting announcement, John, 62, fumed on Instagram: “How does this continue? How does Hollywood exclude us but also steal our stories?
“No more Hollywood and streamer appropriation! Boycott! Gone! Plus, a really hard story to tell without blowing it up, which would be wrong!
“I have no problem with Franco but he’s not a Latino!”
However, producer John Martinez fired back, calling Leguizamo “culturally uneducated.”
He told The Hollywood Reporter, “A guy like John Leguizamo has always been considered by Hispanics to be one of the premier Latin American actors since the ’90s and I’ve always looked up to him as an underdog. But his comments are culturally uneducated and an indiscriminate attack without substance related to this project.
“The reality of ignorance is his statement suggesting his personal view of being ‘Latino,’ because a land mass or area of life does not determine a person’s blood or genetic background.
“His rating 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 argue that we should only identify as Latinos, which is mainly due to the lies spread by the actors who are supposed to represent us, but instead create division among their own people.
“I think he should step up and also recognize that this story is about a Latin immigrant living in America that’s historically significant, led by a Latin woman and I’m just an outsider doing that, so he should also understand that it’s a little disappointing to see our work being attacked by someone claiming to be a leader of the Latin community.”
The Castro film in which James is to appear is directed by Spanish director Miguel Bardem.
He will be joined by actress Mía Maestro, 47, who will play socialite Natalia ‘Naty’ Revuelta, Castro’s former mistress.
Ana Villafañe, 33, plays 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 activist Fernandez, who discovered at age 10 that she was Castro’s daughter.
Fernandez became an anti-communist activist who was repeatedly arrested for her attempts to flee Cuba and banned from traveling outside the country. She defected to Spain in 1993 and settled in Miami.
Filming for the film would begin on August 15 in the Colombian cities of Cartagena and Bogota.