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Chinese director Zhang Yimou defends casting of Matt Damon

31 Comments

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And this is the problem. Yes, we absolutely should encourag utilizing non-white (and non male) actors as the lead in AAA films. Absolutely!! However, at the same time this is a global business and for better or for worse, big names (like Matt Damon) sell tickets.

With this particular film, the director has stated it as a plot point that the main character be foreign/non Asian...isn't that ok? It's not like he is pretending to be Asian/wearing makeup.

Rather, shouldn't we be excited that a movie is coming that will bring Asian actors a chance to shine? If the movie does well, it could be an opportunity for these actors to go big on their own.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

How about the myth of all Asians looking alike? In her TV-series, her male co-star is of Korean descent but acting as of Chinese descent. Where is the complaining there? It is to me exactly the same, wrong in both cases. But when she is making money, she seems apparently not so engaged in that sort of thinking.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I had to log on just to say, nicely said kaynide.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Much ado about nothing, Twitter twits

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This was a financial decision. Many Hollywood movies are now using Chinese actors to make them more appealing for the Chinese box office, since China is now essential towards Holloywood's profitability. It seems the reverse is true in this case. A Chinese blockbuster with Matt Damon as the lead ensures this movie will draw big in both China and the US. Seems like a good business decision to me and I'm sure the investors agree.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Constance Wu - what's with the sour our grapes... someone didn't get a role in the movie perhaps? I think a director of Zhang Yimou,s stature does not need a lecture from a comedy series actress about whom he should cast in his movies. Zhang is great at what he does.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"In her TV-series, her male co-star is of Korean descent but acting as of Chinese descent. Where is the complaining there?"

Yes, excellent point. Nobody can tell Wu what ought to bother her the most, but I find it ridiculous that a native-born U.S. citizen who speaks unaccented American English in real life is best known for a role that requires her to speak "Chinglish." That bothers me more than Matt Damon's getting cast in some movie that's a fantasy involving dragons and other creatures. By the way, that TV series starring Wu and Korean-American Randall Park as the Taiwanese father (called "Fresh off the Boat") is really not funny and has been more or less disavowed by Eddie Huang, the chef and author whose memoir is the original source material for that program.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The text reads:

"Constance Wu, who stars in a U.S. comedy series centered on immigrants called “Fresh Off the Boat,” posted on Twitter last week: “We have to stop perpetuating the racist myth that a only (sic) white man can save the world.”"

Why isn't the myth of one person saving the world put to rest? Is it because every movie goer harbors the fantasy that THEY are that person? That's the appeal of such movies. Who hasn't dreamed of being a hero?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

JB just might be 'the right corrupt decadent western agent' they needed, as suggested in this take on Youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDD_e5A0pmI

For some undisclosed reason, maybe Matt Damon too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How are black actors relevant to this conversation? The topic is about caucasian and asian actors.

Because the subtext is that Hollywood is a sexist, racist, old boys club. It becomes a lot more difficult to argue that position when you're supposed to believe that executives are racist against Asians but not blacks or something equally ridiculous. Of course all of this is nonsense anyway and just a product of outrage culture. Profit-driven filmmakers cast white people in main roles because the majority of their target audience is white. It's not rocket science. And if you understand capitalism, then even if your argument is 'white people are no longer the largest target audience' then the 'problem' is self-correcting.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Money talk.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yawn~

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hollywood really should make an effort to put Asians in more visible roles in movies and TV. That being said, it's a business and I guess it comes down to the fact that audiences prefer seeing a white male in the lead roles..at least in Norh America. When it becomes more financially beneficial to have Asian actors in the lead roles, you will see it happening more and more.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Our heroes

I'm sorry love but aren't you American? She feels offended on behalf of all of China. Didn't the article state there hasn't been much issues about Matt Damon being casted in China. Also the director said other major hero characters are being casted by Chinese actors.

The movie is supernatural themed with monsters where the great wall was built to keep monster which never existed out, then she goes on the reference Mandela, Malala and Gandhi. Yes, those are ACTUAL real world heroes who have made a human difference in the real world, where the other being set up as a fantasy blockbuster movie, also it is the director's choice, if she has actual gripes then pressure him and stop blaming the "white man" for a Chinese directed movie.

What's next, is she going to get angry by an Australian playing Norse thunder-hammer wielding hero?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sounds like a complaint from a person with very little understanding of the subject matter. Unfortunate. Matt Damon is a very good actor, having shared an Academy Award for screen writing, and received a Golden Globe for acting. He is an all-around talent. Furthermore, it sounds like the role was written as a non-Chinese person, which would logically be filled by a non-Asian looking person. Why is this hard to understand?

As a movie buff myself, I find the complaint from the actress disturbing. There is no question but that there is a tremendous amount of talent in the Asian movie and TV industry, from writers, to directors, to musicians, to actors. I am constantly amazed by the talent displayed in Asian productions. That a quality Western actor might occasionally be cast in an Asian movie is a compliment to that actor, and if done artfully, can lead to increased financial success as well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm not a fan of "white-washing", but I also rarely watch a film with an all Asian cast, as I usually can't name one of the actors. People usually like to watch a film with a known cast, and studios know this. I'd be happier to see Asian actors in supporting roles in Hollywood films, so they can start to build up their recognition.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@RocketPanda

What's next, is she going to get angry by an Australian playing Norse thunder-hammer wielding hero?

Do you not understand that ethnicity is not the same as race? However it is comparable to white people complaining about the possibility of Idris Elba playing James Bond. In addition, whites also had a problem with Idris Elba playing a Viking God in the Thor movies.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This is an American movie so it is unsurprising that an American plays the lead. Just as we saw with the Last Samurai or the US version of The Grudge.

So how well did Last Samurai do at the Japanese box office? Did the Japanese audience accept the white savior come to the aid of samurais?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Your reasoning is no better than @Ah_so. Once again, saying that there are more black actors than asian actors don't confirm or deny that racism doesn't play a part in deciding who does or doesn't star in a Hollywood.

@Silvafan: I think that Asians are very under-represented in Hollywood, but I do not think that Hollywood is very biased against actors who are non-white. This is the point I was making. There is a strong representation of black stars among the A list.

So yes, there may be an anti-Asian bias in casting, and we can discuss why, but I do not think that it is a bias that applies to all racial backgrounds.

So how well did Last Samurai do at the Japanese box office? Did the Japanese audience accept the white savior come to the aid of samurais?

@akkk1: I do not think it is relevant - the movie was filmed for a global audience, not a Japanese one. In the movie Thermae Romae, Hiroshi Abe transforms the ancient Roman bath house system by bringing ideas from modern Japan to ancient Rome. How do Italians feel about their Japanese saviour? Are they even aware of this movie. No, it is was not a movie made for an Italian audience.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Silvafan... Perhaps your unaware of the black actors matter movement.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There are many very talented Asian actors but people will always use the race card when they think something is unfair.

Black actors/ comedians/ mucisians are incredibly successful and popular but black lives matter would make you think otherwise.

This is the same as earlier this year when black people were complaining that this years academy awards did not nominate a single black actor.

I don't care about race and I watch a movie if I think it's good. Hollywood is Hollywood. They cast who they want.

Why can't China do the same thing? Movies are all BS anyway. Just a fun distraction for two hours. Matt Damon is a great actor. Really don't care. Maybe Asian actors in Hollywood should stop playing to stereotypes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I've seen the trailer for this. Looks really lame. Damon must have been paid a drumptruck full of money to be in it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's not that he's white. It's that he is a major league top actor and he will help sell the film. China makes all Chinese films all the time and they do t do well internationally. Having a top American actor lie that helps sell the film. It's basic business.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Matt just doesn't look the part. He looks other parts, but not this one. It needed some Jedi scum.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Matt Damon"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Chinese director isn't stupid, he knows exactly what he's doing. Why only get revenue from China when he can make money from US also by casting Matt Damon. It's a smart insurance policy; two halves making a whole profit.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is an American movie so it is unsurprising that an American plays the lead. Just as we saw with the Last Samurai or the US version of The Grudge.

Saying that, there are very few Asian American movie stars. There are plenty of black stars, but very few Asians.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Were there that many white guys near the Great Wall of China during the Northern Song dynasty? I'm confused.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Do you not understand that ethnicity is not the same as race? However it is comparable to white people complaining about the possibility of Idris Elba playing James Bond. In addition, whites also had a problem with Idris Elba playing a Viking God in the Thor movies.

Don't forget all those people who went apesh*t when they found out Hermione was going to be a black character played by a black actress.

Hollywood really should make an effort to put Asians in more visible roles in movies and TV.

Yes, and might I add, there are more Asian Americans in modern day America than there were whites in ancient China.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Illyas

You reasoning is no better than @Ah_so. Once again, saying that there are more black actors than asian actors don't confirm or deny that racism doesn't play a part in deciding who does or doesn't star in a Hollywood.

That logic is on par with saying that I'm not racist because I know one black person. That doesn't mean you are not racist to other black people or other races. Once again, using black people on this topic makes no sense.

You are making a lot accusations with very little evidence.

I do agree that financial influence can correct social wrongs.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Saying that, there are very few Asian American movie stars. There are plenty of black stars, but very few Asians.

@Ah_so

How are black actors relevant to this conversation? The topic is about caucasian and asian actors.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

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