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Saturday Letters

Hollywood Casting Choices: Color, Talent or Box Office?

April 06, 2002

I find myself fervently hoping that Ron Howard will respond to Lisa Navarrete's excellent Counterpunch expose of "A Beautiful Mind" ("Why the Whitewashing of Alicia Nash?" April 1), but I seriously doubt that any explanation would suffice.

I am furious and grievously disappointed. I so enjoyed this film and now cannot get out of my mind the incredible slap in the face caused by not casting a Latina actress to portray Mrs. Nash.

SAMANTHA S. KIMMEL

North Hollywood

*

The unheralded color swap Navarrete writes about is an outrage, and it begs the question: "Why?" Contemplating that is really depressing.

To imagine that the choice was made, at some point, by a bunch of rich white guys to delete a Latina protagonist from a historical biography is the stuff of satire. Could it have been casual, as Navarrete wonders, or was it considered? It was one or the other. Neither option is any good. A decision was made to tell us a lie. Can they pretend that all over the world people don't think of Alicia Nash as a beautiful and faithful Irish Catholic wife?

MICHELE SUTTER

Venice

*

In spite of all the information given regarding "A Beautiful Mind" being a movie inspired by the biography about John Nash, not a by-the-dot retelling of his life, critics and poison-pen losers alike have harped on the gay-or-not-gay angle, anti-Semite or not, accusations of cruelty toward the mentally ill, etc.

Now Navarrete is accusing Ron Howard and Brian Grazer of covering up the ethnic origin of Alicia Nash by casting a non-Latina actress (Jennifer Connelly). Never mind that this film is (once again) based on the life of John and Alicia Nash, or that Mrs. Nash's race was never a factor in any of the points of this movie, or that colorblind casting does work both ways.

To use "A Beautiful Mind" as a scapegoat to get attention for a cause is what is unacceptable, not a casting decision or dramatic license! La Raza should, for want of a better term, get a life!

JULIE FRIAS BYERS

Temple City

*

Navarrete's piece brings up a disturbing point about the Hollywood thought process. I too was bewildered by Ron Howard's choice to portray Alicia Nash as a WASP woman instead of who she really was. I do strongly believe that the filmmakers were fully aware of this decision.

Well, like it or not, the real Alicia Nash is from El Salvador, not New England. It's about time that Hollywood personalities join the 21st century and stop longing for those "Happy Days" back in "Mayberry."

ALEJANDRO J. DIAZ

Panorama City

*

I'm a little confused. In Lorenza Munoz's story, "Casting a Wider Net for Kids" (April 1), she writes that Nickelodeon changed the lead role for a show from white to Asian after Asian American actress Irene Ng clearly proved to be the best person for the part.

Munoz goes on to say that "the way things are usually done--at least with big studio movies--is the reverse." She cites as an example that George Clooney got a lead role in the film "Three Kings" that was originally intended for a black actor.

Funny, that doesn't sound like "the reverse" to me. Quite the opposite, it sounds exactly the same. A part is originally written for a person of one race, a person of another race proves to be the best for the role, and so the part is awarded to that actor. Now that's progress!

JACK BARIC

San Pedro

*

When I go to the movies I don't care if the lead actor is male, female, black, white, Japanese or whatever. I care about how well the movie convinces me that I am not sitting in a darkened theater, I am actually in New York, Dallas, Copenhagen or whatever. I care about how well I am convinced I am watching real people and not actors. I care about how well I am moved by a good story.

So let's forget this people-of-color business and get on with making good movies.

BILL SIMPSON

Rancho Palos Verdes

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