Matt Damon said he knew 'The Great Wall' was terrible while filming it

·3 min read
Matt Damon The Great Wall
"The Great Wall" was a critical and commercial failure. China Film Group/Universal Pictures
  • "The Great Wall" was a critically panned commercial failure, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 35%.

  • Its star, Matt Damon, says he knew while working on the film that it was going to be terrible.

  • "That's as s---ty as you can feel creatively, I think," Damon said on a recent podcast.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

The 2016 movie "The Great Wall" is widely known as a critically panned disaster. Even its leading Hollywood star, Matt Damon, acknowledges it - in fact, he says he was aware of how terrible the movie was going to be while shooting it.

In an interview with Marc Maron's "WTF" podcast (via The Hollywood Reporter), Damon said the director Zhang Yimou was being pressured by the movie's Hollywood producers to alter the film and thus sacrifice what he envisioned for the story.

"I was like, this is exactly how disasters happen," Damon said. "It doesn't cohere. It doesn't work as a movie."

The Oscar-winning actor continued: "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.'

"That's as s---ty as you can feel creatively, I think. I hope to never have that feeling again."

"The Great Wall" was torn apart by critics, and it holds a Rotten Tomatoes score of 35% and a Metacritic score of 42. One critic, Clarence Tsui, writing for The Hollywood Reporter, summarized: "'The Great Wall' is easily the least interesting and involving blockbuster of the respective careers of both its director and star."

Matt Damon The Great Wall
Matt Damon played the European mercenary William Garin in "The Great Wall." China Film Group/Universal Pictures

As well as being a critical disaster, the movie is also considered a box-office failure, despite grossing just under $335 million worldwide. This is because its large budget of $150 million as well as extensive marketing costs outweighed its intake in theaters. Deadline Hollywood reported that the film lost just under $75 million.

Even one of Damon's daughters is aware of how bad the movie is, the actor said.

"Whenever she talks about the movie, she calls it 'The Wall,'" Damon said. "And I'm like, come on, it's called 'The Great Wall.' And she's like, 'Dad, there's nothing great about that movie.'"

The movie was also accused of whitewashing and using the white-savior trope, though several critics pushed back on this claim, while Yimou also dismissed those making such arguments.

Damon addressed this issue in the same interview, saying: "I saw the movie as the exact same plot as 'Lawrence of Arabia,' 'Dances with Wolves,' '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."

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