AceShowbiz - %cMatt Damon% has weighed in on the whitewashing controversy over his "The Great Wall" casting. During a Saturday, October 8 press conference at NYCC, the 46-year-old actor responded to the accusations that his western character in the film fell into an offensive "white savior" or "mighty whitey" stereotype.
"It was a f**king bummer," Damon told the press. "I had a few reactions. I was surprised, I guess because it was based on a teaser, it wasn't even a full trailer let alone a movie. To get those charges levied against you... What bummed me out is I read The Atlantic religiously and there was an article in The Atlantic."
"I was like, 'Really, guys?' To me whitewashing was when %cChuck Connors% played Geronimo [laughs]," he pointed out. "There are far more nuanced versions of it and I do try to be sensitive to that, but %cPedro Pascal% called me and goes, 'Yeah, we are guilty of whitewashing. We all know only the Chinese defended the wall against the monster attack.' "
The crowd laughed, before Pascal jokingly responded, "I never said that! Don't quote me!" Damon said with a chuckle, "Look! It was nice to react a little sarcastically because we were wounded by it. We do take that seriously. That's a serious thing."
"From a marketing perspective, what's a worse wipeout for a marketing team than to have that happen as a backlash against a teaser you put out?" Damon continued. "They're trying to establish a number of things within a minute. It's a teaser, they're trying to tease the monster. They're saying it's a visionary filmmaker that Middle America probably doesn't know."
He added, "It's the Steven Spielberg of China, right? Don't worry! They speak English in this movie.You hear my voice speaking English. Don't worry! Matt's in the movie, you've seen this guy before. They're trying to establish all these things, and by the way, there are monsters."
Directed by Zhang Yimou, "The Great Wall" also stars %cTian Jing%, %cAndy Lau% and %cWillem DaFoe%. 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.
The movie will arrive in U.S. theaters on February 17, 2017.