Matt Damon on Great Wall whitewashing: 'I didn't take role from Chinese actor'

Matt Damon

Matt Damon has hit back at accusations of that he has participated in “whitewashing” through his involvement in forthcoming historical epic The Great Wall, a large-scale Hollywood-Chinese co-production.

Speaking to the Associated Press while promoting the film in Beijing, Damon said: “The whole idea of whitewashing, I take that very seriously ... it’s a monster movie and it’s a historical fantasy and I didn’t take a role away from a Chinese actor. It wasn’t altered because of me in any way.”

Directed by Chinese film-maker Zhang Yimou (who was responsible for the Beijing Olympics opening and closing ceremonies), and the first film to emerge from the Chinese arm of Dark Knight Rises studio Legendary (now owned by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda), The Great Wall is a fantasy action movie set in China’s mythical past, in which a multinational band of mercenaries and fighters battle supernatural monsters. After the trailer release in July, much criticism was directed at the choice of Damon as lead, instead of a Chinese actor.

Damon said he felt the era of clickbait and fake news was responsible for creating the tone of disproportionate outrage. “It suddenly becomes a story because people click on it, versus the traditional ways that a story would get vetted before it would get to that point ... eventually you stop clicking on some of those more outrageous things because you just realise there is nothing to the story when you get to it.”

The Great Wall trailer: Matt Damon in the Chinese epic

Zhang also told AP that he had added Chinese aspects to the original script, which had been in development for seven years. “Although it was developed for commercial purposes, I felt there was room for me to play and put many elements of Chinese culture into it,” he said.

The Great Wall is released on 16 December in China and on 17 February in the US and UK.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Andrew Pulver, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 7th December 2016 16.01 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010