'The Great Wall' Director Defends Matt Damon Casting Against Whitewashing Claim

Zhang Yimou explains that Damon is not playing a role that was originally conceived for a Chinese actor and his character serves as an important plot point in the movie.

AceShowbiz - Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou addressed "whitewashing" controversy surrounding the casting of %cMatt Damon% in "The Great Wall". "Fresh Off the Boat" star %cConstance Wu% recently claimed that featuring white men as the film's heroes in the movie whitewashed Chinese history, but the director explained that it was misunderstanding and Damon was not playing a role originally conceived for a Chinese actor.

"In many ways 'The Great Wall' is the opposite of what is being suggested," Zhang told Entertainment Weekly. "For the first time, a film deeply rooted in Chinese culture, with one of the largest Chinese casts ever assembled, is being made at tent pole scale for a world audience. I believe that is a trend that should be embraced by our industry."

The director added that Damon's character served as an important plot point in the movie. He explained, "Our film is not about the construction of the Great Wall. Matt Damon is not playing a role that was originally conceived for a Chinese actor. The arrival of his character in our story is an important plot point. There are five major heroes in our story and he is one of them - the other four are all Chinese. The collective struggle and sacrifice of these heroes are the emotional heart of our film."

The director claimed the casting fitted with the story that he wanted. He said, "As the director of over 20 Chinese language films and the Beijing Olympics, I have not and will not cast a film in a way that was untrue to my artistic vision. I hope when everyone sees the film and is armed with the facts they will agree."

"The Great Wall" marks Yimou's English-language debut with %cTian Jing%, %cPedro Pascal%, %cAndy Lau% and %cWillem DaFoe% joining the cast ensemble. The movie will open in U.S. theaters on February 17, 2017. Set in the Northern Song Dynasty, the film follows British warriors who happen upon the hurried construction of the massive wall. As night falls, the warriors realize that the haste in building the wall isn't just to keep out the Mongols - there is something inhuman and more dangerous.

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