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Matt Damon takes the lead in Hollywood-China co-production


12-08-2016 00:29 BJT

The star-studded cast of Chinese-Hollywood blockbuster “The Great Wall” gathered in Beijing on Tuesday, as the countdown to the film’s premiere got underway.

Matt Damon takes the lead in Hollywood-China co-production

Matt Damon takes the lead in Hollywood-China co-production

Oscar winner Matt Damon stars alongside Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau in what is one of the most expensive films ever made in China. It is directed by Zhang Yimou, the filmmaker of successful Chinese crossover films “Hero” and “House of Flying Daggers.”

Damon and the film’s Hollywood backers have had to battle against accusations of “whitewashing” for the decision to cast him in a leading role in a movie set in China. In an interview at Tuesday’s event, Damon defended his choice to take part in the film.

“Zhang Yimou called me and asked me to be in his movie; I mean, it wasn’t like—when I think of whitewashing, I think of Chuck Connors playing Geronimo, that’s whitewashing and that’s unacceptable, particularly in the day and age we live in. I really do try and be sensitive to that and I don’t ever want to be accused of that and feel that the accusations have merit, I would be mortified,” Damon said. 

Damon also talked about the ongoing debate around the issue of diversity in Hollywood.

“I think it’s just we live in an age where if you scream ‘J’accuse’ at the top of your lungs it can get clicks on the internet. So I think that’s why it's important to only do that when you know what you’re talking about, because ultimately you undermine you own argument and you undermine your own credibility and people need to be credible when they make these arguments because they are very important and need to be heard,” said Damon.

Zhang also defended his decision to bring Damon on board.

“Actually, it’s really unfair to Matt Damon. I think it’s not like that; once you’ve seen the film, you’ll see it's not like that. It’s a group of people, a group of heroes, and as it’s set to the backdrop of a Chinese story so there are lots of Chinese heroes,” Zhang said. 

“The Great Wall,” which is said to demonstrate Zhang's stylistic trademarks of martial arts and saturated filters, is centered around the mysterious origins of the Great Wall of China and what the wall’s original purpose was.

The film’s biggest Chinese star, Hong Kong actor Andy Lau, said it remained to be seen whether Zhang’s “mission” to create a Hollywood film that would bring Chinese culture to the West will succeed.

“I think he chose this film because it’s a new direction for him. Perhaps it might not be that successful in foreign markets , and I don’t know whether people in our Chinese market will appreciate this style, but I think this is a new direction,” Lau said. 

“The Great Wall” will hit Chinese cinemas on December 16 and will open in the U.S. next February.

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