“It suddenly becomes a story because people click on it, versus the traditional ways that a story would get vetted before it would get to that point,” Damon said.
After footage from the film was released showing Damon leading a Chinese army into battle on the titular Great Wall, the actor received widespread criticism including from “Fresh Off the Boat” actress Constance Wu.
“We have to stop perpetuating the racist myth [that only] a white man can save the world. It’s not based in actual fact. Our heroes don’t look like Matt Damon,” she wrote.
Damon said the term “whitewashing,” to him, applies to the older definition of a white actor wearing makeup to make himself appear to be of a different race. He cited the example of the 1962 film “Geronimo,” in which Irish-American actor Chuck Connors played the titular Native-American Apache chief.
“The whole idea of whitewashing, I take that very seriously,” Damon said.
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The movie itself — the first in the English language by legendary director Zhang Yimou — is Damon’s first foray into Asian cinema and represents the biggest Hollywood-Chinese co-production to date.