James Franco has reportedly been tapped to play Fidel Castro in an upcoming film from director Miguel Bardem — and John Leguizamo is not a fan.
Titled Alina of Cuba: La Hija Rebelde (which translates to, “Alina of Cuba: The Rebel Daughter”), the biopic will be focused on the late Cuban leader’s daughter Alina Fernández, with a script from Oscar-nominated screenwriter José Rivera and Pulitzer winner Nilo Cruz, Deadline reports.
Arturo Holmes/Getty; Target Presse Agentur Gmbh/Getty John Leguizamo (L); James Franco
In a Friday Instagram post, Leguizamo, 58, wrote, “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 problem with Franco but he ain’t Latino!” the actor continued.
Franco, 44, is from Portuguese and Swedish descent on his father Doug Franco’s side, while his mother, Betsy Franco, is of Russian Jewish descent.
Reps for Franco did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
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Daniele Venturelli / Getty Images; Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress James Franco (L); Fidel Castro
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According to Deadline, Ana Villafañe will play Fernandez in the film, while Mía Maestro will step into the role of Natalia “Naty” Revuelta, whom Castro had an affair with and was the mother of Fernández.
Alina of Cuba “follows the true-life story of Cuban exile turned social advocate, Fernández, whose birth was the result of the tryst between Revuelta and Castro,” per Deadline. The film will be shot starting Aug. 15 in Cartagena and Bogotá, Colombia, the outlet reports.
Leguizamo, meanwhile, has been outspoken in the past about feeling like it is still an uphill battle to get Hollywood on board when it comes to Latinx representation.
“We’re less than 1% of the stories told by Hollywood and streaming media and networks when we’re almost 20% of the population, 25% of the US box office,” the Romeo + Juliet actor told PEOPLE in 2020. “I just feel like it’s such a damage to kids not to see themselves reflected back in positive ways.”
Leguizamo, who was born in Colombia, started writing his own material early in his career, resulting in critically acclaimed stage shows like 1990’s Mambo Mouth1992’s Spic-O-Rama1998’s freak and, more recently, 2016’s Latin History for Morons. They all satirized Latino stereotypes through the actor’s own life experiences, and aimed to teach the audience more about his community.
“When you see yourself represented, you feel validated. You feel like you have a chance. I think a lot of my career has been motivated by that,” the Critical Thinking director told PEOPLE of battling for Latino representation. “Growing up in America, they don’t talk about Latin writers or teach Latin history or accomplishments. Negatively, that has an adverse effect on other communities looking at us, who don’t know what we’ve done.”
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Reports of Franco’s involvement in Alina of Cuba come less than a month after it was announced that he’d been cast in the coming-of-age period drama me, you, marking his return to acting four years after being faced with sexual misconduct allegations.
The Hollywood Reporter said earlier this month that Franco is also starring in the upcoming action movie Mace. His most recent roles include voicing a character in the 2019 movie arctic dogs and the third and final season of HBO’s The Deuce that same year.
The Pineapple Express actor was accused of sexually inappropriate behavior by five women, four of whom were his acting students, in an article published by the Los Angeles Times in January 2018.
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At the time, an attorney for Franco denied each of the allegations and cited the actor’s 2018 comments on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert as his formal denial: “The things that I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate, but I completely support people coming out and being able to have a voice because they didn’t have a voice for so long. So I don’t want to, you know, shut them down in any way.”
Last year, Franco reached a deal with Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal — two of his former acting students who filed a sexual-misconduct lawsuit against him in 2019. Records from the Los Angeles Superior Court at stated that he agreed to pay $2,235,000 in the settlement.
Franco broke his silence in December 2021 on SiriusXM’s The Jess CaglePodcastsaying that he’d “been doing a lot of work” on himself.