'The Great Wall' director responds to accusations of 'whitewashing'

Matt Damon plays the lead in the film

The Great Wall director Zhang Yimou has responded to accusations of "whitewashing" following the casting of Matt Damon as the movie's lead.

The trailer for the film caused controversy with many assuming Damon was playing a role that should be played by a Chinese actor.

Yimou told Entertainment Weekly that wasn't the case. "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."

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

Comedian and actress Constance Wu was one of many to respond to the trailer, saying the film was "perpetuating the racist myth that only a white man can save the world".

"Our heroes don't look like Matt Damon," she tweeted.

The Great Wall is set 1,000 years ago on the Great Wall of China, where a group of warriors battle to defeat a number of mythical creatures. It is due for release on February 17, 2017.

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