We’ve talked about movie characters who were completely whitewashed, but now it’s time to talk about another type of casting that has been practiced in Hollywood just as long. There have been many iconic Latino characters that have been played by non-Latino actors. Sometimes this has led to the same actors taking on more Latino parts, and the public actually being tricked into thinking they’re Latino. Sometimes the actors are white, and sometimes they are actually another race you probably wouldn’t have guessed.
1. Al Pacino
Who could forget Pacino’s iconic performance in Scarface as Cuban immigrant, Tony Mantana? The actor did his best doing a Cuban accent but in real life he is Italian-American.
2. Natalie Wood
West Side Story hinges on the fact that a White gang and a Puerto-Rican gang are at odds. So you would hope they would cast the leads accordingly. However, Natalie plays the Latina lead despite the fact that she is of Russian descent.
Perhaps this is more stunt casting to get people to go see the movie, which sadly means Hollywood didn’t see hiring a Latino for the role as an option. The pop icon played Eva Perón based on Evita Duarte, an Argentinian actress who married President Juan Perón. Madonna however isn’t Latina, but has Italian and French-Canadian ancestry.
4. Giancarlo Esposito
The actor played villain Gustavo Fring in Breaking Bad. You might’ve thought he was Latino due to his looks, real name, and his ability to flawlessly deliver lines in Spanish. But the actor is actually Italian and African-American.
5. Cassie Steele
You might know her as Manuella “Manny” Santos on Degrassi and never questioned whether she was Latina or not. But in real life she is Filipina and British-Canadian.
6. Vanessa Ferlito
The beautiful actress acted in Latina roles on 24 and Nothing Like the Holidays, so you might have thought she was in real life, however Vanessa is Italian.
7. Jennifer Esposito
The actress played Latina in many roles including Ria in Crash and Mrs. Diaz in Mamitas. The beautiful actress is actually of Italian descent.
8. Daniel Sunjata
Daniel has this in common with his Graceland costar, Vanessa Ferlito. The actor played Franco Rivera on Rescue Me, but he’s Irish and German.
9. Vanessa Lachey
The actress made a quick appearance as Carmen Chao on 30 Rock. However she is actually Italian, Irish, and Filipina.
10. Jesse Metcalfe
Many think the hot actor is Latino due to his role as Miguel Lopez-Fitzgerald on Passions. But he is French, Italian, and Portuguese.
11. Catherine Zeta-Jones
The actress played Elena in The Mask of Zorro opposite Antanio Banderas. However she is Welsh, English, and Irish.
12. Ben Affleck
The actor got an Oscar for his movie Argo where he plays Tony Mendez. He is actually English, Irish, German, and Scottish.
13. David Henrie
The actor played Justin Russo for years on Wizards of Waverly Place, but he is the only Russo kid who wasn’t Latino. He is really Italian, French, and English.