John Leguizamo Is Mad That Non-Hispanic James Franco is portraying Fidel Castro

It was announced that James Franco will be playing the notorious Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in an upcoming independent movie titled Alina of Cuba. While most people would read that sentence and just breeze past it, the news left actor John Leguizamo hot under the collar. He took to Instagram to unload his frustrations.

The idea of actors playing characters who are different than themselves has taken a beating over the years. That’s weird because that’s the entire point of acting.

Leguizamo is voicing a somewhat common opinion. But it’s one that overlooks some very obvious details of why Franco would land that role.

First and foremost he’s James Franco. He’s a big name in Tinsel Town, an industry that goes where the money is, even if that’s China. And considering this is the first time you’re hearing about Alina of Cuba, it means he’s already done what he was hired to do.

The movie’s producers knew Franco’s involvement would get their movie some attention. They may not have expected to get an assist from John Leguizamo. But they’re high-fiving and popping champagne as we speak.

If the film’s producers are willing to hire non-Hispanic James Franco to play Castro, can you really blame Franco for taking the check? Would Leguizamo be willing to turn down any of his future non-Hispanic roles, or donate the money he made from the ones already populating his IMDb?

Just a quick glance through his filmography and it looks like Leguizamo has taken on plenty of them. He played Luigi in Super Mario Brothers, who of course is Italian. He was Toulouse-Lautrec in 2001’s Moulin Rouge!, a role that using Leguizamo’s logic probably should have been given to a French actor. He even played a genie in a 2000 mini-series version of Arabian Nights. Pretty sure that’s a non-Hispanic character also.

Maybe he really would turn down work for this reason or give up the money he has made over the years, but the safe bet would be that there’s no chance he’d ever do that.

Of course, Hispanic and Latino actors should be able to break into Hollywood. But let’s continue to let actors do what they’re paid the big bucks to do: act.

Written by Matt Reigle

Matt is a University of Central Florida graduate and a long-suffering Philadelphia Flyers fan living in Orlando, Florida. He can usually be heard playing guitar, shoe-horning obscure quotes from The Simpsons into conversations, or giving dissertations to captive audiences on why Iron Maiden is the greatest band of all time.

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