Matt Damon discovers new culture in the Chinese blockbuster The Great Wall

“I think it’s a pretty classic kind of hero’s journey, similar to Lawrence of Arabia, or Dances with Wolves, or Avatar. It’s a character who starts one way, he’s thinking about himself and his own needs and through his exposure to this different, this other culture, this other way, he starts to wake up to the fact that there are things that are more important than himself”. SOUNDBITE 2 : Matt Damon, actor (man, English, 28 sec) “They had 200 shipping containers that surrounded this giant wall that they built and they covered it in green screen. So it was the largest outdoor green screen in the world. I mean, it was incredible. And then they were days, you know, for the first battle there were 500 or more extras in full battle armor, horses, it was just massive. It felt like doing one of the old MGM movies or something, it was just a bigger scale than anything I’ve ever done”. SOUNDBITE 3 : Matt Damon, actor (man, English, 21 sec) “That first battle sequence is just incredible, like what he (director Zhang Yimou) did. That joy that is almost there, in the filmmaking. And I think that’s a kind of an important thing to have, when you try to make a big entertaining popcorn movie. Obviously, this is not historical fact, this is fantasy, and it’s a monster movie, so it’s got to be fun”. SOUNDBITE 4 : Matt Damon, actor (man, English, 26 sec) “When I talked to him (director Zhang Yimou) about it the first time he said : I want it to be the great wall as if it had been designed by Da Vinci. I want the wall to come alive. This wall does things that the real one doesn’t, with catapults coming out of the wall, and blades coming out, the crane corps, the women diving off the parapets and doing their acrobatics, I mean, it’s a big show”. SOUNDBITE 5 : Matt Damon, actor (man, English, 32 sec) “Every decision he (director Zhang Yimou) was making came out of what was truthful for the characters. So he would design his shot around the actions of the characters behaving honestly. So in an odd way his direction was no different from Martin Scorsese’s, or Francis Ford Coppola’s or Steven Spielberg’s, it all came from the same place. So I think my take away was that it’s still filmmaking, in any language”.