In an announcement made Friday, filmmakers gave the most Bell Curve-adjacent reasoning for casting supposedly cancelled acting teacher James Franco as Fidel Castro in an upcoming biopic about Castro’s illegitimate daughter.
Alina of Cuba: La Hija Rebelde will begin filming in Colombia this month to visually echo 1950s Cuba. The “focus” of the film was on creating “an artistic piece of modern Hispanic history,” according to John Martinez O’Felan, the movie’s lead creative producer. The film’s goal was to be “truly inclusive through uniting actors and creatives from both intergenerational and recent Latin roots from the U.S., Latin America, and the world,” he added.
So they searched far and wide for the right leading man. While the process of casting Cuban American actress Ana Villafañe as Alina and Mía Maestro as mother/mistress Natalia “Naty” Revuelta was easy, finding the right Fidel proved difficult. How would they possibly find one (1) Cuban man to play the revolution leader that upended a country? Was the casting flyer budget really that small?
Anyway, they landed on James Franco. And here’s where the casting process completely lost the plot trying to explain why they picked him:
“To get there on such a tough look to cast, we used Fidel Castro’s ancient Galician heraldry as our focal compass, and then combed through the entire ranks of actors with Latin roots in Hollywood to find someone who has a similar facial structure. In executing a close search into our hopefuls through the eye of Spanish and Portuguese genealogy which the Galicians held, we found that James, by far, had the closest facial likeness of our Industry’s leading actors, meaning that the focus would be to build out his character accent and we’d have a stunning on-screen match to intrigue audiences and bring the story to life with true visual integrity.”
Apparently it was hard to convince this man to play Castro, as he is an American who doesn’t seem to speak Spanish. It’s unclear if this movie will be performed entirely or even just mostly in Spanish, which seems proper for a film about the Cuban revolutionary and his anti-revolution daughter. “Finding and convincing James Franco to play Castro, was a fun and challenging process and has been the collaborative work of the universe, because our director’s original order was to find an actor who holds a close physical resemblance to the real Castro to build from, along with finding someone Alina Fernandez would strongly endorse,” O’Felan explained to Deadline.
Again, you’re telling me that James fucking Franco is the only actor in all of the entire English and Spanish speaking world who could play a young-ish Fidel fucking Castro?? Is it because Franco also has a nose, scruff and full head of hair?? Are these suddenly hard to find qualities in casting calls?? I just don’t buy it.
It’s an indie movie, so be honest that sometimes you need a big American star attached to sell. When they wanted to make The Motorcycle Diaries, they cast Spanish speaker (and hottie) Gael García Bernal; while he wasn’t Argentinian, at least he speaks the subject’s native language. The last big portrayal of Castro was by a Mexican actor in 2002. They found it important enough to cast a Cuban American woman as Alina. Perhaps one (1) Cuban or even Cuban American would welcome the opportunity to portray arguably the most important man in the country’s last 80 years.