Zhang Yimou said Damon was not playing a character that was created for a Chinese actor.
The soon to be released film received backlash following the release of the trailer. There were questions as to why a white actor was playing a role some would consider to be more suitable for a Chinese actor. Some of the disapproval included why there always had to be a white saviour in cultural films.
Yimou has addressed the criticism surrounding his forthcoming movie in a statement. He made it clear that Damon was not the hero of the film but one of a group of five persons of which the other four are Chinese.
“In many ways The Great Wall is the opposite of what is being suggested,” Yimu told American publication Entertainment Weekly.
“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.
“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.”
"The Great Wall" tells the story of an elite force making a valiant stand for humanity on the world’s most iconic structure.
The upcoming movie also stars Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal,Willem Dafoe and Andy Lau. "The Great Wall" is set for a December 16 release in China and February 17, 2017 in the United States of America.