Today, in “Look, we don’t make the news, we just report on it” news: James Franco is playing Fidel Castro, we guess.
This comes to us per Deadline, which reports that Franco—who hasn’t released a project since 2019, the year he was accused by multiple students of his Studio 4 acting school of sexually exploitative actions and practices—has signed on to star in Miguel Bardem’s Alina Of Cuba. The Alina in question is Castro’s daughter, Alina Fernández Revuelta, a vocal critic of her father’s government who’s involved in production of the film. Revuelta will be played by Ana Villafañe in the movie; her mother, Natalia “Naty” Revuelta, will be played by Mía Maestro, who was also just cast today.
Rather than say anything that might be seen as casting any aspersions on this production, we’re just going to quote in full a long statement that one of the film’s producers, John Martinez O’Felan, gave to Deadline about casting Franco (who has since settled the lawsuit against him, and filmed a couple of different as-yet unreleased projects during the pandemic). It’s what we in the journalism technically refer to as “a doozy,” so prepare yourselves:
Finding and convincing James Franco to play Castro, was a fun and challenging process and has been the collaborative work of the universe, because our director’s original order was to find an actor who holds a close physical resemblance to the real Castro to build from, along with finding someone Alina Fernandez would strongly endorse. To get there on such a tough look to cast, we used Fidel Castro’s ancient Galician heraldry as our focal compass, and then combed through the entire ranks of actors with Latin roots in Hollywood to find someone who has a similar facial structure. In executing a close search into our hopefuls through the eye of Spanish and Portuguese genealogy which the Galicians held, we found that James, by far, had the closest facial likeness of our Industry’s leading actors, meaning that the focus would be to build out his character accent and we’d have a stunning on-screen match to intrigue audiences and bring the story to life with true visual integrity. Altogether, working with such a supportive and exciting cast has been a true blessing to our team and project.
So, yeah: Congratulations to the universe, the eye of Portuguese genealogy, and a “let bygones be bygones” attitude to sexual misconduct allegations for this exciting casting coup.