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Casting of actor Charlie Hunnam for role of La Barbie sparks Hollywood controversey

January 27, 2016  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Casting of actor Charlie Hunnam for role of La Barbie sparks Hollywood controversey

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Amid the recent Hollywood outrage over the lack of diversity for this year’s Oscars, another controversy regarding equality is brewing involving the use of an Englishman to play the role of a Mexican-American drug lord in an upcoming feature film.

According to Deadspin, many critics are unhappy with the casting of “Sons of Anarchy” star Charlie Hunnam for the role of Texas-born drug trafficker Edgar Valdez Villarreal known as “La Barbie” in Legendary’s upcoming film, “American Drug Lord.”

The story is based on the 2011 Rolling Stone article “An American Drug Lord In Acapulco.” Valdez is the only American ever to climb the ranks of a Mexican drug cartel.

Born in Laredo, Texas, Valdez was a standout high school football player, his nickname was given by his coach because of his light hair and light eyes.

As a teen, La Barbie went on the lam in Mexico after police arrested him for marijuana possession, where he started working with the Sinaloa Cartel under Arturo Beltran-Leyva.

La Barbie later left the Sinaloa cartel to go work for the Beltran Leyva brothers, who had split to form an independent organization, the Beltran-Leyva cartel (BLO). La Barbie was responsible for trafficking multi-ton shipments of cocaine to the U.S., in one year he earned a reported $130 million from illicit drug sales.

Despite the fact that Hunnam and Villarreal share the same features, critics took to social media to ask why Legendary haven’t chosen a Hispanic actor with similar features to play the role of Valdez-Villarreal.

The Los Angeles Times even delved into the controversy in an article titled Charlie Hunnam as “La Barbie” is “exactly what’s wrong with Hollywood.”

Brent Wilkes, who is the National Executive Director of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), said in an interview with Breitbart News, “Latinos are both under-represented and poorly represented in the film industry.”

“The Charlie Hunnam’s casting for the role of a Latino is a concrete example of the intersection of the two biggest problems in Hollywood,” said Wilkes.

He went on to list some examples where non-latinos were cast for Latino characters including the 1961 classic “Westside Story.”

Wilkes added, “The film industry needs to recognize the significant pool of talent in the Latino community. Parts should be offered to Latinos that represent the broad cultural contributions of our community.

Sabino Villalobos, of Latino Casting Hollywood, a Los Angeles-based online database is dedicated to the advancement of Latino Talent in the entertainment and related industries weighed in on the controversy.

“I think it’s a crying shame that they can’t get closer to the real thing,” said Villalobos.

Although Villalobos admitted he has no issue with casting a white actor like Hunnam if it’s better for the production company’s bottom line, he jokingly said, “a Latino actor could always dye his hair to pay the part.”

“The truth is, Latinos come in all colors, shapes and sizes. There are plenty of Latinos with light brown hair, and they need to know that,” Villalobos added.

Mexican authorities arrested Valdez in 2010 and extradited him to the U.S. back in Sept. 2015 after the July prison escape of Sinaloa drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

La Barbie pleaded guilty in early January to charges listed in a drug trafficking indictment in Atlanta Federal District Court. Sentencing for Valdez is scheduled for later this year.

American Drug Lord is still in the preliminary stages of development. Jason Hall from (American Sniper) is set to write the script.

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