John Leguizamo and others criticize James Franco as choice to play Fidel Castro

John Leguizamo at the DNC, 2012
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

There’s been a movement in Hollywood the past few years for the industry to pay more attention to white actors playing roles outside of their race. The issue was brought to the forefront once again recently with the news that actor James Franco would be portraying Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro.

John Leguizamo, who recently starred in Disney’s Encanto, took to Instagram to comment on the casting.

“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 prob with Franco but he ain’t Latino!”

Franco will star as the dictator in an upcoming film called Alina of Cuba, which centers around the life of Castro’s daughter Alina Fernandez. Others shared similar sentiments, like Top Gun: Maverick star Danny Ramirez, who simply shared the news and said “What the f**k.”

Actress Sol Rodriguez pointed out that Franco would have to learn an accent she’s been made fun of for having her whole life.

“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…”

Actor Jeff Torres said that he was being typecast as a drug dealer while Franco plays Fidel Castro.

“I’m auditioning for another generic Latin-American drug dealer and James Franco is dead ass playing Fidel Castro. Latinos gettin’ done dirty af out here and everywhere. Damn lol.”

This would be one of Franco’s first high-profile role since he was accused of sexually exploitative behaviour toward women in 2018. He’ll also star in the upcoming movie Mace.

In 2021, he admitted that he had sexual relationships with his students from an acting school he co-owned.