Movie Reviews

The Great Wall Cast & Character Guide

Summary

  • Despite receiving poor reviews, ‘The Great Wall’ has found a second life on Netflix after its commercial flop in theaters.
  • The film features a star-studded cast including Matt Damon, Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, and Willem Dafoe in lead roles.
  • Director Zhang Yimou and writer Tony Gilroy bring their expertise to the movie.



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The 2016 fantasy action movie The Great Wall boasts an impressive cast of veteran Hollywood actors and stars from China and Hong Kong. The film was produced on a budget of $150 million and was considered a significant commercial flop with its $334.9 million box office run upon its American release in February 2017. To make matters worse, The Great Wall received scathing reviews from critics and audiences, with a 35% Tomatometer and 42% Audience Score. However, like many movies that struggled upon release, The Great Wall has found a second life streaming on Netflix.


While The Great Wall isn’t one of Matt Damon’s best movies, it makes sense on paper why the Jason Bourne star took the role. The creative team behind the movie is excellent, most notably Zhang Yimou, the acclaimed director of 2002’s Hero, who’s considered a master among Chinese filmmakers. For The Great Wall, Yimou was provided with a budget and resources unlike anything he’d had before. Not to mention, the film’s script was co-written by Tony Gilroy, who previously worked on scripts for the Bourne franchise and developed Michael Clayton and the Star Wars series Andor.

The Great Wall Character

Played By

William Garin

Matt Damon

Commander Lin Mae

Jing Tian

Pero Tovar

Pedro Pascal

Sir Ballard

Willem Dafoe

Strategist Wang

Andy Lau



Matt Damon as William Garin

Date of Birth: October 8, 1970

Actor: Matt Damon was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and had his big break in the film Good Will Hunting, which was one of his many collaborations with long-time friend Ben Affleck. The 53-year-old actor has since become one of Hollywood’s most beloved and recognizable stars, known for starring in the Bourne franchise and the Ocean’s trilogy. He’s played vital roles in two Best Picture-winning films, The Departed and Oppenheimer, and has an extensive career in famous movies, ranging from drama to sci-fi to laugh-out-loud comedy.

Notable Movies & TV Shows:


Notable Movies & TV Shows

Character

Good Will Hunting (1997)

Will Hunting

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Linus Caldwell

The Bourne Identity (2002)

Jason Bourne

The Departed (2006)

Colin Sullivan

The Martian (2015)

Mark Watney

Oppenheimer (2023)

Leslie Groves

Character: In The Great Wall, Matt Damon plays a European mercenary traveling to China in search of gunpowder whose mission is sidetracked when attacked by a monster.

Jing Tian as Commander Lin Mae

Date of Birth: July 21, 1988


Actor: Jing Tian is a Chinese actress who had her big break in the film The Warring States. Most of her work has been on Chinese film productions, though her role in The Great Wall led to two more roles in blockbuster films from Legendary Pictures. This includes Kong: Skull Island, one of the films from the Godzilla MonsterVerse, and Pacific Rim Uprising. Since then, Jing Tian has primarily starred in Chinese drama television series like The Glory of Tang Dynasty.

Notable Movies & TV Shows:

Notable Movies & TV Shows

Character

The Warring States (2011)

Tian Xi

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

San Lin

Pacific Rim Uprising (2018)

Liwen Shao

Character: Jing plays the female lead in The Great Wall, a military commander named Lin Mae.

Pedro Pascal as Pero Tovar

Date of Birth: April 2, 1975


Actor: Pedro Pascal was born in Santiago, Chile, and had his big break on the HBO series Game of Thrones after a recurring role in the show’s fourth season. Pascal had been working for nearly two decades before the fantasy drama launched him into prominence, and the 2020s have seen him become one of the world’s most famous actors. He’s best known for playing the titular character in The Mandalorian, Joel in HBO’s The Last of Us, and roles in various blockbuster films like Wonder Woman 1984. In 2024, Pedro Pascal earned the role of Mister Fantastic in the MCU.

Notable Movies & TV Shows:

Notable Movies & TV Shows

Character

Game of Thrones (2014)

Oberyn Martell

Narcos (2015-2017)

Javier Peña

The Mandalorian (2019-)

The Mandalorian

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

Maxwell Lord

The Last of Us (2023-)

Joel Miller


Character: Pedro Pascal plays Pero Tovar, a Spanish mercenary and one of William Garin’s companions in The Great Wall.

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Willem Dafoe as Sir Ballard

Date of Birth: July 22, 1955

Actor: Willem Dafoe was born in Wisconsin and rose to prominence after receiving acclaim for his role in Platoon, earning him his first Academy Award nomination. Dafoe is one of Hollywood’s most recognizable character actors, with supporting roles in practically every major franchise, dozens of masterpiece dramas from auteur filmmakers, and characters in low-budget, independent movies. He’s best recognized for playing the Green Goblin in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films, but his extensive career goes far beyond that.


Notable Movies & TV Shows:

Notable Movies & TV Shows

Character

Platoon (1986)

Elias Grodin

American Psycho (2000)

Donald Kimball

Spider-Man (2002)

Green Goblin

The Lighthouse (2019)

Thomas Wake

Poor Things (2023)

Godwin Baxter

Character: In The Great Wall, Willem Dafoe plays Sir Ballard, a European adventurer who’s become a teacher in China.

The Great Wall Supporting Cast & Characters

Andy Lau: Andy Lau is a prominent Hong Kong actor who’s starred in critically acclaimed films like Infernal Affairs and God of Gamblers. He plays Strategist Wang in The Great Wall.


Zhang Hanyu: Zhang Hanyu is a Chinese actor best known for Chinese movies like Assembly and The Message. He plays General Shao, the leader of the Bear Troop.

Lu Han: Lu Han is a Chinese singer and actor best known for his music career in the boy group Exo. He plays a soldier in the Bear Troop named Peng Yong.

The Great Wall Movie Poster HD

The Great Wall

The Great Wall is a 2016 action-adventure film starring Matt Damon, who helps defend the Great Wall of China from a horde of monsters. The Great Wall received mixed to negative reviews upon release and was criticized for falling into the white savior narrative. Also starring in the movie are Tian Jing, Willem DaFoe, and Andy Lau.

Director
Yimou Zhang

Release Date
February 17, 2017

Runtime
103minutes

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