AN upcoming thriller has sparked controversy for casting Penélope Cruz as a Columbian psychologist.
Tongues are wagging following the release of the trailer for The 355, with critics slamming the Spanish star for taking a role they say should have gone to a Columbian actress.
The major blockbuster, directed by Simon Kinberg, will tell the story of a group of international spies forced to work together to recover a top-secret weapon and see Cruz star alongside Lupita Nyong’o, Diane Kruger, and Jessica Chastain, who is working as a producer on the film.
Explaining the casting decision Chastain said: “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.”
Chastain added: “I realized that Colombia has a rich ethnic heritage, with approximately 80% of the population having European or mixed European heritage. We settled on a character who is a descendant from the colonization of Spain in the New World.I understand that we are continuing to evolve how we think in terms of our cultural beliefs.
“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.”
Universal Pictures is scheduled to release The 355 in theatres January 15.