Celebrity travel

Mon­sters mix with the Great Wall in Matt Damon U.S.-China film

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PROVINCE -

Matt Damon in China to pro­mote film


Matt Damon, one of China's fa­vorite Hol­ly­wood stars, said Thurs­day he was over­whelmed at the fans turn­ing up at his ho­tel in China - not for him but for an ex-boy band singer who also ap­pears in a Sino-Hol­ly­wood fan­tasy ad­ven­ture movie.

The singer is Lu Han, 25, but with the face of a teenager, who rose to fame as the lead vo­cal­ist and dancer of Chi­nese-South Korean boy band EXO.

Lu was trailed by fans, said Damon. "I think the first night where we started shoot­ing there was some­thing like 400 flower ar­range­ments came to the ho­tel and took up the en­tire hall­way."

Damon spoke in Bei­jing to pub­li­cize the movie "The Great Wall," which has a bud­get of $150 mil­lion. Damon, whose movies in­clude "Good Will Hunt­ing" and the "Bourne" ac­tion fran­chise, plays a bat­tlescarred mer­ce­nary in search of trea­sure. Pe­dro Pas­cal, of "Game of Thrones," is his sword-wield­ing part­ner. Lu plays a boy em­peror.

In the film pep­pered with stars from both China and Hol­ly­wood, war­riors use the Great Wall as a weapon to com­bat oth­er­worldly crea­tures who threaten hu­man­ity. It is due for global re­lease in Novem­ber 2016.

It is the latest co-pro­duc­tion be­tween China and Hol­ly­wood as U.S. stu­dios court China's rapidly grow­ing movie au­di­ence and Chi­nese pro­duc­ers look to im­prove their tech­no­log­i­cal know-how.

It will be the first English-lan­guage movie by Zhang Yi­mou, the di­rec­tor of the ro­man­tic Kung Fu drama "House of Fly­ing Dag­gers," ''Hero" and the op­u­lent open­ing and clos­ing cer­e­monies of the 2008 Bei­jing Olympics.

Zhang said he felt at ease with the story be­cause it was set in China.

"Movies that have fights against mon­sters from the past, present and fu­ture are all pro­duced by Hol­ly­wood," he said. "What I have thought about is how to use this Hol­ly­wood for­mat to ex­press what I want to ex­press and present the Chi­nese cul­ture and make it unique."

Willem Dafoe also stars in the film, and there are a host of Chi­nese ac­tors in sup­port­ing roles, in­clud­ing Hong Kong's Andy Lau. Ac­tress Jing Tian takes on the lead fe­male role in her first English-lan­guage film.

Damon said the lan­guage bar­rier was not a prob­lem when film­ing. "It's the same dis­ci­pline and it moves across cul­tures and lan­guages pretty easily," he said.


Matt Damon, cen­tre, speaks to di­rec­tor Zhang Yi­mou dur­ing a press con­fer­ence of their latest movie "The Great Wall" held at a ho­tel in Bei­jing, China, Thurs­day.

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