Jessica Chastain Defends Penelope Cruz Casting in 'The 355' Amid Backlash
Universal Pictures

Actress and producer Jessica Chastain breaks her silence following backlash for casting Penelope Cruz, who's Spanish, to play a Colombian woman in her new movie.

AceShowbiz - Jessica Chastain has spoken out in support of Penelope Cruz following criticism of her casting as a Colombian spy in their new movie "The 355".

In an article published by Variety, the film was called out for casting a Spanish actress in the role of a Latina woman, with writer Clayton Davis insisting it's "clear that executives and agents put no effort into scouring the world to find a more appropriate choice, or to be even more daring, an actual Colombian actress to play Graciela."

However, Jessica, who is also a producer on the movie, released a statement to the outlet, explaining the role was originally conceived as being Brazilian but Penelope did not feel comfortable playing a character from Brazil.

"When I had the idea of making this film, we didn't have a script or financing," Jessica said. "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 added, "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."

"I understand that we are continuing to evolve how we think in terms of our cultural beliefs," Jessica stated. "When making this film, I wanted to move beyond nationalism and understand the international common thread that connects us all. At the end of the day, it wasn't important where the characters came from, but that they all come together to form an alliance beyond borders."

The 355, also starring Lupita Nyong'o, Penelope Cruz, Diane Kruger, Fan Bingbing, Sebastian Stan, and Edgar Ramirez, is slated for a January 2021 release.

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