James Franco will bring Cuban leader Fidel Castro back to life in the upcoming film by Miguel Bardem, Alina of Cuba. According to Deadline, the Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner will star alongside Mía Maestro, who will play the role of Natalia “Naty” Revuelta, a socialite Castro who had an affair.
The film will follow Revuelta and Castro’s daughter, Alina Fernández Revuelta, portrayed by Ana Villafañe, and her true-life story as a Cuban exile turned social advocate. Fernandez learned she was Fidel Castro’s daughter at the age of 10.
As reported by the publication, growing up, she became one of Castro’s most outspoken critics and was arrested several times for trying to abandon the country. In 1993, she was able to flee to Spain and then moved to the United States and made Miami her permanent home.
In addition to Franco and Maestro, the movie also casts Alanna de la Rosa, Maria Cecilia Botero (Encanto), Harding Junior, and Cuban-born actors Sian Chiong and Rafael Ernesto Hernandez. The movie is filmed in Cartagena and Bogota, Colombia, capturing Spanish colonial architecture.
“Since the inception of the film, our focus has been to produce an artistic piece of modern Hispanic history, with the vision for the project as being truly inclusive through uniting actors and creatives from both intergenerational and recent Latin roots from the U.S, Latin America, and the world,” said John Martinez O’Felan, the project’s lead creative producer. “That said, casting Ana and Mia were no-brainers because, besides the trajectory of their past work, one represents modern Cuban-America and the other Argentina. After watching Ana’s reel and auditioning her, it became evident she was perfectly suited and had a great voice to carry the material, and Mia’s work in the past with Jose spoke for itself and screamed writer/actress reunion.”
Why James Franco and not a Latino?
“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,” O’Felan adds.
“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,” he explains. “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.”