Interdimensional comic thriller Everything Everywhere All at Once is the breakout hit movie of 2022, making a marquee star of its lead Michelle Yeoh, who says she waited patiently to star in a Hollywood vehicle — when it came along she was ready.
“You know what, I did. I waited a long time for this, and luckily it came,” she told The Independent. “Some people wait their whole life and the opportunity might never come. I was patient. I was resilient. I never stopped learning. And so I was ready when the opportunity did present itself.”
Former Miss Malaysia Michelle, 59, has appeared in any number of hit films, from action thrillers in Hong Kong (Yes, Madam!), to arthouse martial arts epics (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Bond movies (Tomorrow Never Dies), romantic dramas (Memoirs of a Geisha) and comedy smashes (Crazy Rich Asians).
So it’s almost perplexing that her first leading role in Hollywood is in a mind-bending, left-field fantasy in which she plays a downtrodden, harassed laundrette manager, Mrs. Wang — think Dot Cotton... minus 30 years, plus a black belt in kung fu.
Our Everything Everywhere review described the film as "an existential crisis which is exactly what we need".
Michelle regards Everything Everywhere All at Once as an absolute gift – a ‘liberating’ role for an Asian actress, which shines a light on a forgotten type of person in movies.
“These mothers, aunties, grandmothers who are there in Chinatown, or in the supermarket, but nobody ever notices them. They just walk straight past them. I wanted to give them a voice. I wanted to make them the superhero,” she said.
Michelle has had a remarkable career — after an injury halted her career as a ballerina in London, she retrained as an actress and martial arts screen star who performed her own stunts — breaking her back in the process – not that many younger people will be aware of her past. She is happy to correct this for a new wave of film fans.
“The young kids don’t know me because they didn’t grow up watching Tomorrow Never Dies or Memoirs of a Geisha,” she said. “Now I’m suddenly known by the younger generation, and they can relate to me suddenly, and I think that’s a great achievement. I am very grateful that Everything Everywhere is making a difference in their lives.”
Find out how to watch Everything Everywhere All at Once — out in theaters now.
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Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.