Zhang Yimou defends casting of Matt Damon in new movie

( Agencies ) Updated: 2016-08-06 08:49:00

Zhang Yimou defends casting of Matt Damon in new movie

Matt Damon in The Great Wall. [Photo/Mtime]

Acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou has responded to criticism from an Asian-American actress over the casting of "white man" Matt Damon as the lead for the movie The Great Wall, saying the role was never conceived for a Chinese actor.

Damon, of the "Bourne" franchise, will star later this year in the $150 million Chinese-Hollywood fantasy movie, an English-language movie set in China involving menacing supernatural monsters.

Constance Wu, who stars in a US comedy series centered on immigrants called Fresh Off the Boat, posted on Twitter last week: "We have to stop perpetuating the racist myth that a only (sic) white man can save the world."

"Our heroes don't look like Matt Damon," her post read, listing alternatives such as Pakistani schoolgirl turned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi and South African president and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela.

The Great Wall is the first English-language movie by Zhang Yimou, the director of the romantic Kung Fu drama House of Flying Daggers, and the opulent opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"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," Zhang said in a statement posted on Entertainment Weekly's website on Thursday.

"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," he was quoted as saying. Zhang said actors portraying the movie's other four "major heroes" are Chinese.

The casting of Damon hasn't sparked any controversy in China, where producers are increasingly entering into co-productions with American and other movie makers to improve their filmmaking techniques.

The Great Wall is due to be released in December in China and in early 2017 in other countries, including the US.


'Great Wall' of controversy over Matt Damon casting

First sneak peek at Zhang Yimou's 'Great Wall'

Editor's Picks
Hot words

Most Popular