AceShowbiz - James Franco is set to star as Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Miguel Bardem's "Alina of Cuba." The "Disaster Artist" actor has landed the role with the blessing of Castro's daughter, Alina Fernandez Revuelta, who the upcoming movie is about.
She defected to Spain and was a strong critic of her father, who died in 2016, aged 90. Mia Maestro will play Natalia 'Naty' Revuelta, the socialite Castro has an affair with. Ana Villafane was previously cast as Alina.
As reported by Deadline, the film "follows the true-life story of Cuban exile turned social advocate, Fernandez, whose birth was the result of the tryst between Revuelta and Castro. Revuelta sacrificed her and her physician husband's personal belongings and finances to help fund the start of the communist revolution."
"Fernandez learned that she was Fidel Castro's daughter at the age of 10 when after years of secret visits to her home, her mother finally revealed that 'El Comandante' was her biological father. Alina grew to become one of Castro's most outspoken critics, arrested on more than one occasion for trying to leave, and was classified as a dissident forbidden to travel outside of Cuba."
"Ultimately, she defected to Spain in 1993, an event that drew headlines from every major news network around the world, before she made Miami her permanent home."
The script comes from Jose Rivera and Nilo Cruz. John Martinez O'Felan, the project's lead creative producer, said, "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 creative from both intergenerational and recent Latin roots from the U.S., Latin America, and the world."
"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."
The casting of Castro was a "challenging process" and Franco was chosen for having a "similar facial structure" to the late Cuban revolutionary. The producer added, "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." Filming will take place in Cartagena and Bogota and kick off on August 15.