“Fresh Off the Boat” star Constance Wu slammed the casting of Matt Damon in the upcoming China-set action flick “The Great Wall” for “perpetuating the racist myth that only a white man can save the world.”
The Taiwanese American born actress posted a letter to Twitter on July 29 — a day after the film’s first trailer was released. Damon plays a warrior defending the landmark against ancient Chinese monsters.
“Our heroes don’t look like Matt Damon,” Wu wrote. “They look like Malala. Gandhi. Mandela. Your big sister when she stood up for you to those bullies that one time.”
“Can we all at least agree that hero-bias & ‘but it’s really hard to finance’ are no longer excuses for racism?” wrote Wu, 34, in a tweet accompanying the letter. “TRY.”
The film, set 1,000 years ago, is the most expensive movie collaboration between the United States and China. It is directed by Chinese film director Zhang Yimou. While it does feature a diverse cast, including Pedro Pascal, Jing Tian, Willem Dafoe, and Andy Lau, Wu and many internet commentators were still outraged at the choice of Damon in the lead role.
Wu wrote that she wasn’t trying to assign blame. “Not blaming Damon, the studio, the Chinese financiers,” she wrote in a followup tweet. “It’s not about blame, it’s about AWARENESS.”
The backlash is only the latest in mounting criticism Hollywood has faced for its lack of diversity.
In addition to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, the #StarringJohnCho social media campaign was recently created to show what blockbusters would look like if they starred Asian American actor John Cho.
Other recent films, like “The Martian,” “Doctor Strange,” and “Ghost in the Shell” have also been blasted for “white washing” and erasing characters that were meant to be Asian.