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When White Actors Stop Getting All The Good Latino Roles, Maybe We’ll Stop Complaining

Did you know that in 2013, less than 5 percent of movie roles went to Latino actors?

Damon replied:

Brown’s reaction said it all.

So, Matt Damon, if diversity is achieved through casting, why did your pal Ben Affleck cast himself as Tony Mendez in Argo?

Credit: Warner Bros.

In 2012, Affleck played CIA agent Tony Mendez, the central character in Argo. Affleck caught plenty of flak for casting himself, and not a Latino actor, in the role. When asked about the decision to play Mendez, Affleck said:

“You know, I obviously went to Tony and sought his approval…was the first thing. And Tony does not have, I don’t know what you would say, a Latin/Spanish accent, of any kind really, and… you know you wouldn’t necessarily select him out of a line of ten people and go ‘This guy’s Latino.’ So I didn’t feel as though I was violating some thing, where, here’s this guy who’s clearly ethnic in some way and it’s sort of being whitewashed by Ben Affleck the actor. I felt very comfortable that if Tony was cool with it, I was cool with it.”

Ben Affleck isn’t the first white actor to play a Latino in a movie. He probably won’t be the last.

Credit: Disney

Let’s go back in time… this has been happening for DECADES.

1939: Paul Muni in Juarez

Credit: Warner Bros.

Muni played Mexican president Benito Juarez in a film that also starred Bette Davis as Carlota of Mexico.

1952: Marlon Brando in Viva Zapata!

1961: Natalie Wood in West Side Story

Credit: United Artists

Although Puerto Rican actor Rita Moreno won an Oscar for the role of Anita, white actor Natalie Wood played the Puerto Rican character Maria.

1969: Jack Palance in Che! 

Credit: 2oth Century Fox

Jack Palance, on the right, played Fidel Castro. That’s Omar Sharif as Che Guevara.

1989: Armand Assante in The Mambo Kings

 

Credit: Warner Bros.

Assante, an Italian actor, was tasked with playing a Cuban musician named Cesar Castillo.

1993: Ethan Hawke in Alive

Credit: Buena Vista Pictures

Hawke played Nando Parrado in Alive, the true story of an Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed in the Andes and were forced to take drastic measures to survive.

1995: Marisa Tomei in The Perez Family

Credit: The Samuel Goldwyn Company

Tomei played Dorita Evita Perez, a Cuban refugee who makes it to the US in the Mariel boatlift.

1996: Madonna in Evita

Credit: Buena Vista Pictures

In this musical, Madonna was cast to play Argentine First Lady Eva Perón.

1996: Hank Azaria in The Birdcage

2001: Jennifer Connelly in A Beautiful Mind

Credit: Universal Pictures

Connelly played John Nash’s wife, Alicia, who was from El Salvador.

But that only happened in the old days, when there were no Latino actors to choose from, right? WRONG.

2011, Carey Mulligan in Drive

Credit: FilmDistrict

The character of Irene was written as a young Latina, but director Nicolas Winding Refn cast Carey Mulligan instead. He told The Huffington Post:

“I couldn’t find any actress that would click with me personally. I couldn’t make a decision for some reason. I had all this talent in front of me and out of the blue I get a call from Carey because she wanted to meet me about doing a movie. She came by the house and she walked in and I realized, ‘Oh my God, this is what I was looking for.’ I wanted to protect her … And I knew that was the Driver’s motivation.”

And one more time, for emphasis: Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez in 2012’s ARGO.

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

So what were you saying about diversity and casting, Matt Damon?

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