Skip to content

Here's Why Everyone's Mad at James Franco Right Now

The controversial actor's latest role is definitely unexpected.

James Franco is known for taking on some unexpected roles (see: his four-year run on General Hospital), but his latest part is surprising in a way that's making some people angry. As reported by Deadline on Thursday, the actor will play Fidel Castro in the movie Alina of Cuba, which focuses on Castro's daughter, Alina Fernández, as well as the communist leader's relationship with Fernández's mother, Natalia Revuelta Clews.

The news wasn't just surprising to the public, since Franco hasn't appeared onscreen since 2019, after allegations of misconduct by the actor surfaced. Read on to find out why his new project has social media denouncing the move.

READ THIS NEXT: Tom Hanks' Decades-Long Feud With This Star Is "Painful," Friend Says.

The movie is about one of Castro's children.

Alina Fernández at Penn State Berks in 2007
Lauren A. Little/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Alina of Cuba is about the life of Alina Fernández, one of Castro's nine children. Fernández did not find out that Castro was her father until she was 10 years old. As an adult, she became a critic of Castro's government. She fled to Spain in the early '90s and later moved to the U.S.

In the movie, Fernández will be portrayed by Cuban-American actor Ana Villafañe. Revuelta Clews will be played by Mía Maestro, who is Argentinian.

Franco was cast due to his "facial likeness," a producer said.

Fidel Castro in Uzbekistan in 1963
emkaplin / Shutterstock

One of the producers of Alina of Cuba told Deadline that Franco was cast as Castro because he resembles him.

"[W]e 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," said John Martinez O'Felan. "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."

Franco has a quarter Portuguese ancestry through his father's side.

Many people found the casting news disappointing.

James Franco at the BAFTA Tea Los Angeles in 2018
DFree / Shutterstock

After the news was announced, many took to Twitter to express their disappointment in Franco being cast as Castro even though he is neither Cuban nor Latino.

Actor Jeff Torres posted, "I'm auditioning for another generic Latin-American drug dealer and James Franco is dead [expletive] playing Fidel Castro. Latinos gettin' done dirty af out here and everywhere." Writer Lilliam Rivera tweeted, "James Franco as Fidel. This week continues to show how Hollywood will allow on certain stories to be told by certain people. And by certain people, I mean NOT latines."

Some were more upset because two major projects starring Latinx actors were canceled this week: the Batgirl movie and the HBO Max series Gordita Chronicles.

"Gordita Chronicles and Batgirl cancelled, James Franco set to play Fidel Castro. Truly a curséd time for Latin content," tweeted Matt Barbot. The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative posted, "Let us get this straight. First, Hollywood cancels multiple Latinx shows and Batgirl. Then, they cast Castro with James Franco? No wonder there is so little progress in this town. They still don't get it."

Franco has also been accused of sexual misconduct.

In 2018, multiple women accused Franco of sexual misconduct, including students at his acting school, one of whom said he "abused his power by exploiting the non-celebrity women that he worked with under the guise of giving them opportunities" during an interview on Good Morning America (via People). He went on to pay a $2 million settlement in a sexual misconduct lawsuit from two students, as reported by People.

In 2021, Franco spoke about the allegations in an interview with Jess Cagle. He claimed that he dealt with sex addiction and said, "Over the course of my teaching, I did sleep with students, and that was wrong. But like I said, it's not why I started the school and I wasn't the person that selected the people to be in the class. So it wasn't a 'master plan' on my part. But yes, there were certain instances where, you know what, I was in a consensual thing with a student and I shouldn't have been."

For more celebrity news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

People are also upset about his comeback for this reason.

James Franco at the 2018 BAFTA Tea Party in Los Angeles
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

"James Franco coming back and whitewashing a Latin American figure? A double whammy of awfulness. Yay," tweeted a user named Alessandra. Another wrote, "I could think of a hundred people I would cast before James Franco. This is terrible casting. We need better representation & did people already forget that this man has several sexual misconduct allegations??????"

Someone else wrote, "So I just found out that James Franco is playing the role of Fidel Castro, and to be honest that's a huge slap in the face to qualified latino actors. James Franco is a perfect example of white male privilege that can get away with sexual misconduct allegations."

According to Entertainment Weekly, Fernández supports Franco's casting and serves as a consultant on the film.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
Filed Under