Encanto's John Leguizamo and more Latino stars criticise James Franco casting

Photo credit: Arturo Holmes - Getty Images
Photo credit: Arturo Holmes - Getty Images

Encanto star John Leguizamo took to his Instagram on Friday (August 5) to criticise the news that James Franco has been cast as Fidel Castro in a new biopic.

Franco is set to play Castro in the upcoming movie Alina of Cuba which tells the real-life story of a 10-year-old Cuban exile who finds out she is Castro's daughter.

"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 [is] F’d up! Plus seriously difficult story to tell without aggrandizement which would be wrong! I don't got a problem with Franco but he ain't Latino," he captioned the post.

Photo credit: Arturo Holmes - Getty Images
Photo credit: Arturo Holmes - Getty Images

Related: Encanto stars praise Disney movie's Colombian representation

Leguizamo's Encanto co-star Jess Darrow seemed to mirror his sentiment and commented on his post: "Wtf is this…."

Fellow Latino actors Jeff Torres and Sol Rodriguez also took to their Twitter accounts to share their frustrations at the casting news, with Rodriguez commenting: "Not me reading that James Franco will have to 'build' an accent for Castro, when my entire life I've been made fun of for not speaking English like an American and been told countless times to work hard to get rid of it."

However, the film's producer John Martinez O'Felan has responded to Leguizamo's comments calling them "a blind attack with zero substance" (via 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.

Photo credit: Daniele Venturelli - Getty Images
Photo credit: Daniele Venturelli - Getty Images

Related: Encanto fans think Disney movie is getting a sequel

"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. 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," explained the producer.

"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."

Since, Leguizamo has responded to criticism of his own comments on Instagram, reiterating that he does not take issue with Franco, but instead that Latinx actors are still not being considered first for Latinx roles.

"I grew up in an era where Latin people couldn't play Latin people on film. The era where they would tell you to change your name, that only white Latinos or white passing Latinos would get jobs and they weren't even the main leads…. Appropriating our stories, no more of that. I'm done with that…. It should be an equal playing field. We should all be able to play whatever role, but that's not the way it works."

Franco has not publicly commented on the casting news.

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