James Franco to play Fidel Castro in biopic, with blessing of Cuban leader’s daughter

James Franco is going from Tommy Wiseau to Fidel Castro.

The Disaster Artist actor has been cast to play the Cuban leader in director Miguel Bardem’s Alina of Cuba, EW has confirmed. He joins the previously announced Ana Villafañe, who plays the titular character, Alina Fernandez. Mía Maestro is also joining the film as Fernandez’s mother Natalia “Naty” Revuelta, the Cuban socialite who gave birth to her following an affair with Castro.

Jose Rivera (The Motorcycle Diaries) and Nilo Cruz are penning the screenplay for the biopic, which, as its name suggests, tells the real-life story of Alina Fernandez, Castro’s exiled daughter. Revuelta first told her daughter that Castro was her father when she was 10 years old. Fernandez would go on to become a vocal critic of his reign in Cuba before ultimately fleeing the country and defecting to Spain in 1993.

Now serving as an on-set creative and biographical consultant on the film, Fernandez has reportedly given her blessing to Franco’s casting.

James Franco attends the Filming Italy 2022 photocall on June 11, 2022 in Santa Margherita di Pula, Italy. (Photo by Daniele Venturelli/Daniele Venturelli / Getty Images); Fidel Castro, Cuban statesman. Havana (Cuba), in June 1988. FDM-614-4. (Photo by Francoise De Mulder/Roger Viollet via Getty Images)

Daniele Venturelli/Getty; Francoise De Mulder/Roger Viollet/Getty James Franco and Fidel Castro

Alanna de la Rosa, Maria Cecilia Botero, Harding Junior, Sian Chiong, and Rafael Ernesto Hernández also star in the film, which begins shooting this month. John Martinez O’Felan and Joe Lamy are producing for Mankind Entertainment; Celine Rattray and Trudie Styler are producing for Maven Screen Media; and Allen Gilmer and Rikki Rushing are producing for Redbud Studios. Javier Gonzalez, Juan Pablo Solano, Simon Beltran, Luis Mandoki, and Thaddeus D. Matula are serving as executive producers on the project.

“To bring the character of Fidel Castro to life, working with James Franco, will be his long-time makeup collaborator Nana Fischer (Golden Globe winner, The Disaster Artist) and dialect coach Jessica Drake (The Batman, Bohemian Rhapsody), who he brought with him,” Martinez O’Felan tells EW in an email.

Alina of Cuba marks the second casting announcement for Franco in recent weeks. It was announced last month that the Oscar nominee was set to return to the big screen with a role in Bille August’s coming-of-age period drama, Me, You four years after stepping away from acting after facing sexual misconduct allegations.

Deadline Hollywood first reported Franco’s casting.

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