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‘Ferrari’ producer defends casting of Adam Driver against “cultural appropriation” criticism

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A producer on Michael Mann’s upcoming film Ferrari has defended the casting of Adam Driver against claims of cultural appropriation.

Andrea Iervolino, an Italian-Canadian film producer on the Enzo Ferrari biopic, rebuked claims made against Driver’s casting by actor Pierfrancesco Favino, who questioned why Italian actors were not cast more often in Hollywood films.

In response, Iervolino said Italy had failed in comparison to other countries in producing Hollywood stars with worldwide visibility, citing examples like Javier Bardem and Antonio Banderas from Spain, and Marion Cotillard and Vincent Cassel from France.


Speaking at the festival (via the Telegraph), Ierovlino said: “Italian cinema needs to look beyond Italy and come up with synergies with the international film industry, which wants to invest in Italian icons. Films like Ferrari, which will be distributed in 150 countries, promote Italy and Italian genius.”

Andrea Iervolino
Andrea Iervolino CREDIT: Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images for The Red Sea International Film Festival

The producer called on the Italian film industry to “make films based on stories that speak to the whole world, with international stars who work side by side with our own talent”.

In his original comments, Favino, who stars in a movie called Comandante which opened this year’s festival, asked why actors on the level of Toni Servillo (The Great Beauty) were not cast more often in Hollywood productions.

“There’s an issue of cultural appropriation,” Favino said.

“Instead, the parts are given to foreign actors who are distant from the story’s real protagonists, starting with the exotic accents,” he added. “If a Cuban can’t play a Mexican, why can an American play an Italian? It only happens with us. In another time (Vittorio) Gassman would have played Ferrari. Now, Driver does it and no one says anything.”


Driver previously played Italian businessman Maurizio Gucci in Ridley Scott’s House Of Gucci, where he starred alongside fellow American actors Lady Gaga, Jared Leto and Al Pacino in Italian roles.

It comes after several controversial casting issues in recent months. Bradley Cooper was recently defended by Leonard Bernstein’s family for playing the Jewish composer with a prosthetic nose, while the casting of non-Jewish actor Cillian Murphy to play the lead role in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, a Jewish nuclear physicist, similarly faced scrutiny.

Alongside Driver, Ferrari stars Penélope Cruz, Shailene Woodley, Gabriel Leone, Sarah Gadon, Jack O’Connell and Patrick Dempsey. The film is scheduled to be released in cinemas on December 25 in the US.

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