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Zhang Yimou Defends Casting Choice for ‘The Great Wall’

Zhang Yimou, the director of the upcoming film The Great Wall has defended the choice to cast Matt Damon in the lead role.

The trailer for The Great Wall sent the internet into an uproar when it was released a few days ago, by casting Matt Damon in the lead role of a Chinese film, set in China and based around the building of The Great Wall of China.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Yimou defended the casting choice by saying:

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. There are five major heroes in our story and he is one of them — the other four are all Chinese.

It’s not the first time in film history that a white actor has been cast in a lead role of an international film where they really look out of place, and it won’t be the last.

Based on Yimou’s words, it seems that the trailer may not have revealed enough of the plot and simply put the emphasis on Damon as a way to pull in Western crowds.

By the sounds of things, there will be a fair amount of Chinese actors in the film as the director goes on to say:

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.

It’s one thing to blatantly cast an out-of-place actor in a film solely due to their star-power, but it’s a different story if it was part of the director’s intentions as he claims:

I have not and will not cast a film in a way that was untrue to my artistic vision.

We’ll just have to see for ourselves when the film comes out in February of 2017.

If anyone hasn’t seen the trailer yet, you can check it out below.

Source: EW

IMDB Synopsis:

A mystery centred around the construction of the Great Wall of China.

Nick Janks