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Fidel Castro’s Daughter Stands by James Franco’s ‘Amazing’ Casting in Biopic

Alina Fernández, who serves as a consultant for the film, applauded the "obvious physical resemblance" between Franco and her Communist leader father.

James Franco

James Franco

Getty

James Franco’s casting as Fidel Castro in the upcoming period piece “Alina of Cuba: La Hija Rebelde” has caused major backlash, but the Oscar nominee has one important supporter: Castro’s daughter, Alina Fernández.

“James Franco has an obvious physical resemblance with Fidel Castro, besides his skills and charisma,” Fernández told Deadline of the “This Is the End” star portraying her Communist leader father.

“The project is almost entirely Latino, both in front and behind the camera,” Fernández added, citing Franco’s Portuguese heritage. “I find the selection of the cast amazing. The filmmakers worked a lot and I can’t be more grateful to them for their overall inclusive selection.”

For “Alina of Cuba,” Fernández will be played by Ana Villafañe, with Mía Maestro starring as Natalia “Naty” Revuelta, the socialite whom Castro had an affair with, resulting in the birth of Fernández.

The film, directed by Miguel Bardem and written by “The Motorcycle Diaries” scribe Jose Rivera and Pulitzer Prize winner Nilo Cruz, follows the life of Cuban exile Fernández, who learned she was Castro’s biological daughter at age 10. Her mother Revuelta and stepfather sold the family’s personal belongings to help fund the start of the Communist revolution, but decades after, Fernández became an outspoken critic of Castro and was classified as a dissident before defecting to Spain in 1993 and later relocating to Miami.

Alanna de la Rosa, Maria Cecilia Botero, Harding Junior, Sian Chiong, and Rafael Ernesto Hernandez additionally star in the film.

Fernández will serve as a biographical and historical consultant to “Alina of Cuba” with production starting August 15 in Cartagena and Bogota. “To me, the most important thing about this movie is that the conversation about Cuba is alive,” she said. “Personally, the experience is so far too unexpected but more than anything, humbling.”

The casting of Franco led to criticisms in Hollywood amid misconduct allegations against the actor, plus his non-Cuban heritage. John Leguizamo took to Instagram to slam the casting, in part writing, “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!”

“Alina of Cuba” producer John Martinez O’Felan responded to Leguizamo’s post, saying, “His comments are culturally uneducated and a blind attack with zero substance related to this project.”

O’Felan continued, “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. 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.”

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