Nina Star Mike Epps Responds to Zoë Saldana Casting Controversy: 'She Did a Good Job'

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03/22/2016 AT 07:40 PM EDT

Nina star Mike Epps is responding to criticism over his costar, Zoë Saldana’s, casting as singer Nina Simone.

While promoting his latest film, Meet the Blacks on Tuesday, Epps tells PEOPLE that overall he thinks Saldana “did a good” job portraying Nina Simone in the biopic.

Controversy over the Guardians of the Galaxy star’s casting has raged since the film’s first movie poster was released. Images from the production drew criticism over the use of a prosthetic nose and skin-darkening makeup to make Saldana more closely resemble Simone.

But Epps, who plays comedian Richard Pryor in the biopic, attributed the backlash to the timing of the film’s release, which followed the debut the acclaimed – and Oscar-nominated – Netflix documentary What Happened, Miss Simone?

“I really didn’t have a lot of thoughts or put a lot of thought into it because filmmaking is filmmaking, and I think with the Nina movie, once they put that documentary out with the real Nina Simone, it kind of made it hard for Zoë to come back and do the movie about Nina because people saw the real Nina in that Netflix documentary, so whatever it does people are going to criticize it one way or another anyway,” he explained.

“I think she did a good job,” Epps continued. “The thing about doing biopics is that the younger generation doesn’t really know who they’re coming to see like when Jamie [Foxx] did Ray Charles I’m pretty sure there was a big percentage of the fans who didn’t really know who Ray Charles was – really the younger audience – so they were really just coming to watch Jamie Foxx perform,” he said of Foxx’s Oscar-winning performance in 2004’s Ray.

“With Zoë’s situation, they put a documentary out about Nina Simone that was really hot and familiar, so I think it made it hard for her to come back and do that movie,” he added.

Meanwhile, in a recent Hollywood Reporter guest column, the director of another Simone documentary, The Amazing Nina Simone, added his voice to the Saldana controversy.

“I am saddened by the ugly and inaccurate portrayal contained in the script and trailer for Nina and by Mr. [Robert L. Johnson]’s desperate attempt to defend the project,” he wrote.

Meet the Blacks opens April 1.

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