James Franco is already getting backlash for his new film role

James Franco is dusting off his acting skills to return to the big screen four years after multiple sexual misconduct allegations largely derailed his career.

According to Deadline, as part of his return to acting, the Oscar nominee will play Fidel Castro in the upcoming indie film Alina of Cuba, based on the real-life story of Alina Fernandez, the Cuban revolutionary’s daughter. The actor — whose tarnished reputation has kept him from starring in mainstream roles — has been quietly working on a comeback, recently landing roles in post-war drama Me, You and action thriller Mace, per IMDb.

Franco’s return to acting has not been smooth sailing. The decision to cast the former heartthrob as the Cuban leader in Miguel Bardem’s upcoming biopic drew widespread condemnation on social media and surprisingly has little to do with the accusations that threatened to ruin his career.

Many are upset that a white actor was cast in the role

Many Latin American actors are upset that James Franco was cast in the role, including “Encanto” star John Leguizamo, according to CNN. Leguizamo took to Instagram to condemn the film’s decision to cast the Golden Globe winner, arguing that the role should have gone to a Latino actor instead. “What’s next?” Leguizamo wrote on Instagram alongside a screenshot of the Variety article confirming the news. “How does Hollywood exclude us, but also steal our narratives? No more appropriation from Hollywood and streamers! Boycott! That’s F’d up!” He added that he himself had no problem with Franco, just that “he’s not Latino!”

Many Latinx actors followed Leguizamo’s lead in condemning the casting decision, including “Encanto” voice actor Jess Darrow, who commented, “Wtf is this…” in response to Leguizamo’s post. Jeff Torres, a Latino actor known for his roles in “Night Sky” and “SWAT,” slammed the casting choice in a series of tweets. “I audition for another generic Latin American drug dealer and James Franco is amazing when he plays Fidel Castro. Latinos get dirty here and everywhere. Damn lol.”

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