Deadline announced that James Franco is locked in to play Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Alina of Cuba.
Franco joins Mía Maestro, who is set to play Natalia “Naty” Revuelta, the Cuban-born socialite with whom Castro has an affair & Ana Villafañe, who plays Alina Fernandez, Castro’s daughter.
Miguel Bardem will helm the film, while Jose Rivera & Nilo Cruz will write the screenplay. Allen Gilmer will executive produce the film & John Martinez O’Felan, Joe Lamy, Celine Rattray, Trudie Styler, & Allen Gilmer will produce.
Alina of Cuba will follow the true story of Alina Fernandez, a Cuban American immigrant & human rights activist who is the daughter of Castro & Natalia Ruveleta, the woman with whom Castro has a love affair. Fernandez is well-known for being an outspoken critic of her father & uncle.
The film is being shot in Cartagena & Bogota. Production is scheduled to start on August 15th.
Lead creative producer of Austin-based Mankind Entertainment, John Martinez O’Felan, had this to say: “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. 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.”
O’Felan 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.”