Well, okay then. An indie production has found its Fidel Castro in James Franco, who is set to play the divisive figure in the years before and after he became Prime Minister of Cuba. According to Deadline, Franco will star alongside Mía Maestro, who plays the Cuban socialite and Castro mistress Natalia Revuelta. Directed by Miguel Bardem, and written by Motorcycle Diaries scribe Jose Rivera and Pulitzer Prize winner Nilo Cruz, Alina of Cuba will tell the real-life story of dissident and Castro critic Alina Fernandez (Ana Villafañe), the living result of Castro and Revuelta’s affair.
Since it’s Fernandez’s story, it seems like Franco will have a secondary role in the film, and producer John Martinez O’Felan says they pursued him for the part because of how much he physically resembles the revolutionary leader. That resemblance is undeniable, although it’s unclear how good Franco’s Spanish is or whether he can pull off a Cuban dialect.
Despite the notability of the person he’s playing, this project does not mark a grand return from Hollywood ostracization following allegations of sexual misconduct in 2018. Franco has since settled with former students who claimed he exploited them sexually and spoken briefly in public about his sex addiction. He’s also continued to operate on low profile, low budget films, mostly ones that he’s directed. This continues that pattern.
Interestingly enough, O’Felan has also set up a documentary called Revolution’s Daughter to film alongside Alina of Cuba. Directed by Thaddeus D. Matula, it will blend behind-the-scenes looks at Alina‘s filming with historical and social commentary about the real-life Alina Fernandez’s impact on Cuba.