Throughout his decorated cinematic career, Matt Damon has uncovered global conspiracies, sabotaged interstellar pursuits, and grown potatoes on Mars – and that’s just scratching the surface. But for his latest gig, it’s fair to say Damon is venturing into uncharted territory with The Great Wall, Zhang Yimou’s wildly ambitious monster movie that’s set to become the most expensive film production in Chinese history. No pressure, then.
With little over three weeks to go until its western release, Empire has unearthed a new, vertigo-inducing image for The Great Wall that sees Matt Damon’s adventurer approach the edge of China’s famous fortification very, very gingerly. Flanked by Willem Dafoe and Game of Thrones star Pedro Pascal, Damon’s William Garin and his men are drafted in by Commander Lin Mae (Jing Tian) to help safeguard China and its people from mythical beasts known as the Taotie.
“I kind of felt like I was making a Hollywood movie in the 1940s,” Damon tells Empire. “The scale of it was so massive. We’d go to work and there’d be 500 extras all in battle armour. It felt like one of those old MGM musicals, or like I was making a movie with Cecil B. DeMille. It was absolutely overwhelming, in the best way possible.”
Headlining such a massive production proved to be a learning experience for Matt Damon, then, who was seen as a controversial choice to lead Yimou’s Chinese blockbuster from the outset. To his credit, the actor has in no way shied away from whitewashing concerns and here, he reflects on what it was like to work under such a visionary filmmaker.
“I would have done this if it were a tiny little kitchen-sink drama, but it turned out to be this giant popcorn movie. The chance to stand next to one of the great visionary directors in the world as he paints on the largest canvas he’s ever been given was something I couldn’t pass up.”
Also on board to fight against the Taotie are Andy Lau, Zhang Hanyu, Eddie Peng, Lu Han and many more. The Great Wall made its debut in China late last year to mixed reviews. It’s set to make its way Stateside on February 17th.