Hollywood actor Matt Damon is gearing up for his next big release, The Great Wall — a fantasy thriller that narrates the fictional reason behind the making of the historical Chinese structure. However, soon after its trailer release in August, the producers have been accused of "whitewashing" as they chose an American star for the lead role rather than an Asian or Chinese actor.
Damon has finally opened up about the allegations and said that he was "wounded" by the controversy. "I had a few reactions," the actor told reporters at a press conference during the New York Comic Con. "I was surprised, I guess because it was based on a teaser. It wasn't even a full trailer, let alone a movie. So, to get those charges levied against you," he continued.
Damon defended his role in what is being called the most expensive film in Chinese cinematic history, and said, "I was like, 'Really, guys?' To me whitewashing, I think of Chuck Connors when he played Geronimo. Look, there are far more nuanced versions of it and I do try to be sensitive to that. But Pedro Pascal called me, and goes, 'Yeah, we are guilty of whitewashing. We all know only the Chinese defended the Wall against monsters when they attacked.'"
The movie narrates the story of an elite force led by five warriors who vow to defeat the monsters swarming on the other side of the Great Wall of China. Damon, who plays one of the five warriors, admitted that he was hurt by the allegations. "It was nice to react a little sarcastically because we were wounded by it. We do take that seriously. That's a serious thing."
Although the plot is still unclear, from the trailer it appears the Bourne actor will play a vital role in defeating mythical creatures.
Earlier, Great Wall director Zhang Yimou told Entertainment Weekly, "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."
Produced by Legendary and Universal studios, the film is set to release in cinemas on 17 February 2017. Along with Damon, the cast includes Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe and Chinese stars Andy Lau, Tian Jing, Hanyu Zhang, Eddie Peng and Lu Han.