Fidel Castro’s daughter backs James Franco’s casting as former Cuban leader amid criticism

James Franco has the support of Fidel Castro’s daughter (Picture: Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

Amid criticism over his casting, James Franco’s upcoming role as Fidel Castro has the backing of the former Cuban leader’s daughter.

Last week it was announced 127 Hours actor James, who is four years after denying sexual assault allegations, will portray Castro in Alina of Cuba.

The 44-year-old actor – who has Latin and Portuguese heritage – will star opposite Mia Maestro as Castro’s former lover, socialite Natalia ‘Naty’ Revuelta, and Ana Villafane as their daughter Alina Fernandez in the film, with the real Alina sharing her belief the producers have done a great job with casting.

She told : ‘[I am proud that] the project is almost entirely Latino, both in front and behind the camera.

‘James Franco has an obvious physical resemblance with Fidel Castro, besides his skills and charisma.

‘I find the selection of the cast amazing.

Alina, seen here in 1994, is backing the casting (Picture: Pam Price/AFP via Getty Images)
She thinks the likeness of Castro, pictured here, is similar to James (Picture: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)

‘Ana Villafañe is extraordinarily talented, and not only as an actress because she is also a great singer, a very complete performer. I’m sure that Mía Maestro, an actress I admire, will understand and interpret Naty, my mother, in a unique way and I can’t wait to see her building her character.’

Alina – who will be a biographical and historical consultant on the film – went on to praise the rest of the cast, which includes Alanna de la Rosa, Maria Cecilia Botero, Harding Junior, and Cuban-born actors Sian Chiong and Rafael Ernesto Hernandez.

James is making a return to acting (Picture: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
Castro died in 2016 (Picture: Jorge Rey/Getty Images)

She added: ‘The rest of the cast is going to be a wonderful surprise for all audiences. The filmmakers worked a lot and I can’t be more grateful to them for their overall inclusive selection.

‘To me, the most important thing about this movie is that the conversation about Cuba is alive.

‘Personally, the experience is so far too unexpected but more than anything, humbling.’

The film’s producer recently defended the casting, after James’ involvement was called out by John Leguizamo.

John Leguizamo called out the lack of LatinX represention in Hollywood (Picture: Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)

The Colombian American actor claimed Hollywood was ‘excluding’ the Latinx community, having been vocal about the lack of Latinx representation in the film industry previously.

He said on Instagram: ‘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 be wrong! I don’t got a prob with Franco but he ain’t Latino!’

In response John Martinez O’Felan, said in a statement to that while he admires John ‘as a fellow underdog’, his comments were a ‘blind attack’.

He said in part: ‘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.’

Written by Jose Rivera and Nilo Cruz, the movie will show the life story of Cuban exile and social campaigner Alina, who found out aged 10 she was Castro’s daughter.

She 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.

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