Matt Damon revealed this week on Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast (via The Hollywood Reporter) that his 15-year-old daughter “likes giving me shit” when it comes to judging his career and “crushes me on the [films] that don’t work.” One such film is “The Great Wall,” Zhang Yimou’s poorly-reviewed 2016 monster movie that bombed at the U.S. box office. Damon doesn’t need his daughter to tell him the film was awful, as he admitted to Maron that he realized he was acting in a misfire in the middle of production.
“I was like, this is exactly how disasters happen,” Damon said, noting he realized “The Great Wall” was doomed after witnessing the movie’s Hollywood backers pressuring Zhang Yimou to sacrifice his vision. “It doesn’t cohere. It doesn’t work as a movie.”
“I came to consider that the definition of a professional actor; knowing you’re in a turkey and going, ‘OK, I’ve got four more months. It’s the up at dawn siege on Hamburger Hill. I am definitely going to die here, but I’m doing it,’” Damon later said about his experience on the film. “That’s as shitty as you can feel creatively, I think. I hope to never have that feeling again.”
“The Great Wall” also found itself at the center of casting backlash. Many critics faulted the movie for perpetuating the white savior stereotype, as Damon stars as a European mercenary warrior who helps the Chinese fight off alien invaders. Damon said that he was thinking about race when he read the script, noting, “I saw the movie as the exact same plot as ‘Lawrence of Arabia,’ ‘Dances with Wolves,’ [and] ‘Avatar.’ It’s an outsider comes into a new culture, finds value in the culture, brings some skill from the outside that aids them in their fight against whatever and they’re all changed forever.”
While Damon is aware “The Great Wall” is a disaster, his daughter still manages to get in some good burns about the movie. As the Oscar winner explained, “Whenever she talks about the movie, she calls it ‘The Wall.’ And I’m like, come on, it’s called ‘The Great Wall.’ And she’s like, ‘Dad, there’s nothing great about that movie.’”