“American consumers may be used to lumping together all Spanish speakers. Cruz is Hispanic, which is not interchangeable with Latina.”
Jessica Chastain has defended the casting of Spanish star Penelope Cruz as a Colombian spy in upcoming action feature “The 355”. Chastain and Cruz star alongside Lupita Nyong’o, Fan Bingbing and Diane Kruger in the movie about five international spy who team up to save the world from a common foe.
After the first trailer of the film was released, American media outlet Variety had criticised the makers for taking a Spanish actor for a Colombian role. “American consumers may be used to lumping together all Spanish speakers. Cruz is Hispanic, which is not interchangeable with Latina. It’s a constant battle within Hollywood to hire more Latinx actors and actresses, and understand who they are and where they come from,” columnist Clayton Davis wrote in the article for Variety.
In a statement, Chastain, who has produced “The 355” and was also involved in the casting process, defended the decision to rope in Cruz for the part. “When I had the idea of making this film, we didn’t have a script or financing. Penelope was incredibly helpful in this regard. After conversations with our consultant, I brought her the idea that she could play a fervent agent from Brazil. She mentioned that it wouldn’t be right for her to play a character from Brazil, as the majority language is Portuguese,” she said.
“I realised that Colombia has a rich ethnic heritage, with approximately 80 per cent of the population having European or mixed European heritage. We settled on a character who is a descendant from the colonisation of Spain in the New World,” she added.
Chastain further said that the main aim behind the film was to rise above “nationalism” and understand the “international common thread that connects us all”.
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