Zhang defends Damon's role in action film
DAYS after a trailer for
The Great Wall sparked controversy for its casting of Matt Damon as the lead, Chinese film-maker
Zhang Yimou has released a statement defending
"Our film is not about the construction of the Great Wall," he told Entertainment Weekly.
"Matt Damon is not playing a role that was originally conceived for a Chinese actor.
"There are five major heroes in our story and he is one of them - the other four are all Chinese.
"I have not and will not cast a film in a way that was untrue to my artistic vision," wrote Zhang.
The film, from Legendary and Universal,
is set on the Great Wall Of China. It focuses on a group of elite warriors
who band together to
keep out and defeat mythical creatures.
But people were still disappointed that the film, set about 1,000 years ago, stars a white American actor.
In a lengthy tweet,
Fresh Off The Boat star Constance Wu wrote
that the film is "perpetuating the racist myth that only a white man can save the world".
She added: "Our heroes don't look like Matt Damon".
Zhang also said that
"for the first time, a film deeply rooted in Chinese culture, with one of the largest Chinese casts ever assembled, is being made... for a world audience…
"I believe that is a trend that should be embraced
by our industry".
The film will also star Pedro Pascal and Willem Dafoe alongside Chinese stars including Andy Lau, Zhang Hanyu and
It is the first movie to emerge from Legendary Entertainment's Legendary East operation.
It is also the first English-language film
for Zhang with a
US$135 million (S$181 million) budget.
It is set to open in the United States on Feb 17.