Still several months out from its February 2017 U.S. release, the Zhang Yimou-directed “The Great Wall” has once again made headlines for its alleged “whitewashing” of a Chinese story. At a press conference for the movie at New York Comic-Con on Oct. 8, the film’s star, Matt Damon, responded to criticisms by expressing his surprise at the controversy.
“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,” Damon explained, according to ComingSoon.net. “I was like, ‘Really, guys?’ To me, whitewashing was when Chuck Connors played Geronimo. There are far more nuanced versions of it and I do try to be sensitive to that.”
To illustrate the point, Damon referenced a conversation he had with co-star Pedro Pascal after the allegations came out.
“Pedro Pascal called me and goes, ‘Yeah, we are guilty of whitewashing. We all know only the Chinese defended the wall against the monster attack!'” Still, the actor went on to explain, “…it was nice to react a little sarcastically because we were wounded by it. We do take that seriously.”
To conclude, Damon promised that he would sincerely consider the criticism if audiences still felt wronged after seeing the film in its entirety.
“Ultimately where I came down to was, if people see this movie and there is somehow whitewashing involved in a creature feature that we made up, then I will listen to that with my whole heart. I will think about that and try to learn from that. I will be surprised if people see this movie and have that reaction,” the star said.
The film, which also features actors Jing Tian, Willem Dafoe and Andy Lau, will be released in China in December.