At the Tribeca Film Festival this week*, I saw City Island and at the post-screening talkback (talkbacks with film directors, by the way, are much more interesting than talkbacks after plays and ballets. Who knew?), one of the audience members asked why Andy Garcia was cast as the lead instead of an "Italo-American". His argument was that an actor of Italian descent would have brought more insight into the role of an Italian-American.
Well, fella, it's called "acting". Any real actor -- and Garcia was wonderful in the role, by way -- can play any part, bound only by the strictures of physical plausibility (I don't think, for example, that Ed Asner, as talented as he is, could ever pull off a role as Marilyn Monroe. Maybe Phyliss Diller, though....).
Besides, was he really claiming -- especially while sitting in the audience at the Tribeca Film Festival, one of whose founders was Robert DeNiro --that "Italo-Americans" are underrepresented in the forefront of American film actors?
As a side note, City Island is really good. See it if you can.
* I'm pretty sure my presence in TriBeCa was not what caused the building at 71 Reade St. to collapse. Then again....