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Matt Damon ‘wounded’ by The Great Wall whitewashing row

Matt Damon was stunned at the accusation of whitewashing levelled at his upcoming movie The Great Wall after a teaser was released.
Damon was responding to criticism from Taiwanese American actress Constance Wu among others, who slammed the movie as “racist” and objected to Damon’s leading role in the action movie, which follows the mythical story of a band of soldiers battling an ancient Chinese monster set on the Great Wall of China. Willem Dafoe and Chinese superstars Andy Lau, Wang Junkai and Jing Tian also feature.
At a press conference during New York Comic Con, the Jason Bourne star retorted to the film’s critics, and admitted jokingly in a panel session for the movie, “Yeah, it was a f**king bummer,” reported ScreenRant.com.
“I had a few reactions. I think I was surprised, I guess, because it was based on a teaser. It wasn’t even a full trailer, let alone the movie. So, to get those charges levied against you… what bums me out actually is that I read The Atlantic (magazine) religiously. And there was an article in The Atlantic, (so) I was like really guys? To me whitewashing, I think of Chuck Connors when he played (apache leader) Geronimo…there are far more nuanced versions of it and I do try to be sensitive to that.”
The “whitewashing” of roles in Hollywood movies, where Caucasian actors have taken on characters originally envisioned as people of colour, such as Scarlett Johansson in a remake of the Japanese anime classic Ghost in the Shell and Tilda Swinton’s take on the originally-Tibetan Ancient One in the forthcoming Doctor Strange, have both been the subject of online debate.
The Great Wall is the first English-language film from legendary Chinese director Zhang Yimou and boasts a multinational cast. However in August (16) The House of Flying Daggers helmer denied Damon had taken a role from a Chinese actor.
The Good Will Hunting star went on to describe how he and co-star Pedro Pascal reacted to the accusations.
In a phone call to his co-star, Pascal joked: “Yeah, we are guilty of whitewashing. We all know only the Chinese defended The Wall against the monster, (but)…it was nice to react a little sarcastically ‘cause we were wounded by it.
“You know, we do take that seriously. That’s a serious thing.”
Narcos star Pascal added: “We don’t want people to be kept from work that they wouldn’t have the opportunity otherwise to see it, (which) is very specifically Chinese. It is a creature feature. It’s a big, fantastical, popcorn entertainment movie, but it has a visual style that is very in its own way (Chinese).”
Damon, who bore the brunt of the criticism, went on to say he hoped the movie wouldn’t suffer because of the backlash, and deny Western movies audiences the chance to enjoy the work of the “Steven Spielberg of China” – director Yimou.

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