‘Everything Everywhere’ lets Michelle Yeoh be herself, ‘finally’

Mark Olsen

February 7, 2023

Article taken from Los Angeles Times

Academy Award nominee Michelle Yeoh has been a worldwide movie star for decades, known for action-packed roles in films such as “Supercop” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and as a Bond girl in “Tomorrow Never Dies.” But it’s her leading role in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” that Yeoh says finally let her show what she’s capable of.

In this episode of “The Envelope,” Yeoh discusses her first impressions of “Everything Everywhere’s” genre-bending script and bold gags. She reflects on her dangerous early-career stunts and how she was treated when she arrived in Hollywood (she makes a gloriously unimpressed sound while recalling that people were “quite stunned” when they realized she could speak English). Yeoh also goes deep on tokenism, aging and why she’s been praying every night to win an Oscar.

Yvonne Villareal: Hello, and welcome to another episode of “The Envelope.” And actually, this is more than just another episode — it’s our last one for this wonderfully eclectic Oscar season, and we have someone really special.

Mark Olsen: I interviewed one of the biggest movie stars on the planet for decades now, actress Michelle Yeoh. Michelle, of course, plays the lead, Evelyn, in the film “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” And it’s now been almost a year since the movie had its world premiere as the opening night of the South by Southwest Film Festival.3

And I don’t think anyone in that room could quite have predicted it would go on to be a box-office smash, proving there is still an audience for challenging, inventive art house movies in theaters.

Villareal: Yeah, I also don’t think anyone could have predicted it would get 11 Oscar nominations, including best picture and a first Oscar nomination for Michelle as best actress.

Olsen: Absolutely. But I have to say, I was lucky enough to be in the audience on that opening night, and I could see the joy and commitment that Michelle and the rest of the team behind the film feel towards the project. And you could just see that there was just something unique about this.

Villareal: Truly, it was such a wild and emotional ride, you couldn’t look away at any point or you’d miss something special and incredible and outrageous. And I mean, has another Oscar-nominated film ever featured a butt-plug fight?

Olsen: I don’t think so.

Villareal: Well, and you know I love a good declaration of love, Mark. The film has maybe one of the most romantic lines in all of cinema, which is: “In another life, I would have really liked just doing laundry and taxes with you.”

Olsen: Yeah, we can thank Daniels for that. That’s Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, the duo who wrote and directed the film. The movie also marked a comeback for actor Ke Huy Quan, who’s been nominated for supporting actor, and features stunt choreography by Andy and Brian Le.

I have to admit, I could have listened to Michelle for hours just talk about making movies in Hong Kong like “Supercop” with Jackie Chan or Johnnie To’s “Heroic Trio.” She really is one of those people who has lived so many lives in her lifetime. It was just such a treat to talk to her. So let’s get to the conversation.

For the Los Angeles Times and “The Envelope,” I’m Mark Olsen, and I’m here today with someone who genuinely needs no introduction: Michelle Yeoh.

Michelle Yeoh: Hello, Mark.

Olsen: Michelle, I just want to say congratulations to you on all the awards and the tremendous reception that “Everything Everywhere All at Once” has gotten this year.

Yeoh: Yes, thank you.

Olsen: And now fans and critics have just absolutely loved the movie. It’s been the highest-grossing film for the distributor, A24, and it’s gotten all this attention during awards season. Through all this, what has been most surprising to you? Like, has there been something in the response to the movie that you didn’t expect?

Yeoh: Whoa. Wow. That’s a loaded question. I think, when you get a story like this and immediately you feel in your guts — whoa, it is chaotic. I mean, you have hot-dog fingers thrown at you. Then you read, oh my God, what? They’re using dildos and, what, butt plugs? Huh? Oh my God, where are we going with this? But then it’s all centered and grounded by the deep, emotional beating heart of family and love.

When I first received the script, I was blown away by the boldness of these two young writers, directors — the Daniels, as we affectionately know them for. I think the first thing, my instinct, was: I have to meet these two guys and pray to God they’re not certifiably insane. Because who thinks of something like this?

Olsen: Do you remember how the Daniels first pitched the story to you? Like, how did they first describe it to you?

Yeoh: When I first met them, they were the most calm. Like, they were very serious. I guess, I don’t know, people tell me I’m very intimidating. I have no idea why. So, and I think they were nervous because they said afterwards it was like, “If we can’t convince Michelle to do this movie, I don’t think we have a movie anymore.” So it felt like they had a lot of things riding on it, but I was already sold by the script. But I had to see where this story was coming from.

And what I loved the minute I saw them together: There was no ego. They were like the yin and the yang. So, Kwan is Chinese and Scheinert is American Caucasian, right? But how they spoke of each other, with each other was like — you know when you have egos? So either someone is going to take the lead and the other person is always going to be the wingman. Here it was like, “We are two co-pilots, literally, and we are both flying this together.” And when you listen to them talk about it — ’cause they spent two years rewriting it, reconfiguring it — it’s about taking the risk. And this is what they did: They said, “We’re just going to put in every single thing that everybody tells us we can’t do, but we are going to risk it.”

And I think that was one of the reasons why I really wanted to work with young directors. Because they’re — apart from the fact that they’re brilliant — they’re also hungry. They want to tell you their story. And that is when you get the best storytellers because they want to grab you and they go, “Listen to me, listen to me. Just listen to me. Give me a chance.” And I think that was what it was. It was just: Give us a chance to tell you our story.

Olsen: And now as I understand it, they initially wrote the script sort of focused on a male, on the father character —

Yeoh: Yes.

Olsen: They offered this part to Jackie Chan, he turned it down.

Yeoh: Yeah, they went to China to see Jackie and presented the story to him and, and all that, yes.

Olsen: What does that change mean? Like, for you, does it do to the story to switch the focus from the father to the mother?

Yeoh: I think the whole dynamic changes right away. I think it is a comfort thing to write it for a man, because it’s an action movie. Then you always think, “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s what the man should do. He should save the universe.” So Jackie would be the one that goes and saves the world. And so they came back and go, “Nah, OK. I think Michelle should save the world.” So they were smart.

It does completely change their dynamics because that mother-daughter relationship is a tough relationship that often doesn’t really get explored in that way. So here is a completely different dynamics. And also, in this story, it’s about her trying to come to terms with her own culture and her own past with her father, who always disapproved. So there were so many struggles that’s going on, and I think we relate so much to so many of those.

Olsen: And I’m curious what this role means to you within the context of your career. You’ve talked about how, recently, you’ve been offered more supporting parts, that you don’t get offered very many lead roles anymore. And so what did it mean to you when the Daniels sort of flipped things around and they asked you to carry the movie?

Yeoh: The first thing is you feel like, “Finally, thank you. You guys see me, you guys really see, and you’re giving me the opportunity to show that I’m capable of doing all this.” As an actor, you need the opportunity. You need the role that will help you showcase what you are capable to do.

You know, as you get older, the roles get smaller. It seems like the numbers go up and these things go narrow and then you start getting relegated to the side more and more. So when “Everything Everywhere” came, all at once it was very emotional because this means that you are the one who’s leading this whole process, who’s telling the story. It’s about this ordinary woman who becomes a superhero. It’s about you being able to be funny, dramatic, martial arts, like, almost like a horror film. It was like five genres made into one.

You know, as you get older, people start saying, “Oh yeah, you should retire. You should do this. You should –” No, guys. Do not tell me what to do. I should be in control of what I am capable of, right?

Olsen: Has anyone actually suggested to you that you should retire? That seems crazy to me.

Yeoh: Hmm. They don’t say it in so many — why would they dare say that in so many words, right? But when you don’t get the roles and you’re just sitting there. But then, like, I look at Reese [Witherspoon] and I look at these older, smart — like Nicole [Kidman] and all — they set up their own production houses, right? Because they are not going to wait at the sidelines. Because they saw that coming as well. You have to be smart about it. And if you don’t make it happen and you wait, then you could be waiting for a very long time.

So no one has actually said, “Oh, well, you know, you’re getting to be that age.” Because I look at Dame Judi Dench, and I, “Yes, woman,” you know? But I look at Helen Mirren and I go like, “Yeah!” I look at Meryl Streep and I go, “Yes!” There are beautiful stories that still need to be told for us older women, and we should not back down and say, “Well, OK, I’ll just like accept it and try to —”

But then, those roles are not so many. So we have to find ways to tell these storytellers, “Don’t look at us as being older women. Just look at us as great actors and actors who can help you tell your story.”

Olsen: And then you’ve long been an advocate for Asian representation in Hollywood, as you were saying, and I’ve heard you speak sometimes about how there’s a tension between what you see as representation and tokenism. And I’m curious to know how you sort that out for yourself. How do you decide how you feel about the representation in a given project? Say, like, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”?

Yeoh: I think first of all, it comes from the script. You will see it there. And you’ll also see if it’s just a token, it’s like, “Oh, we better throw in, like a Asian person as, you know, the assistant and this and that and that.” You can see that they’re just ticking the boxes. “Have we got this? And have we got, if we have this, then we have the perfect little package.” But that’s not how it works, really, because true representation or inclusivity gives these characters a real background, a real life. Desire, hope, dreams or whatever it is. And it’s not just like, “Oh, well, it’s normal to see like a goofy, nerdy Asian. Let’s just do that. And then we have an Asian in there.”

So you have to steer away from them, but the only way you can steer away from that is if you truly have an understanding, you truly embrace the different cultures, the different faces. I want to have one day where when you read on the paper, it’s not written, “A Chinese walks in the room,” and, you know, “A Hispanic waiter comes.” Why are you describing it like that? It’s not necessary, right? A waiter is a waiter, and then you find the best, depending on what it is. So I would like to see that where they don’t differentiate. Then we get equal opportunities to be able to play.

Olsen: Have you ever been made to feel like you were sort of a token or like you were there to tick off a box?

Yeoh: Fortunately, no, I have not been made to feel that. I have worked with some of the most forward-thinking, innovative directors, and I remembered at that time they would send me the script and say, “Well, actually it’s written for a man, but look at it with different eyes.” And for me, that’s how it should be. The characters, if they’re full, it can be reversed.

Subtleties, of course, nuances would have to change, but the core of the message, “Love is love” — whether you’re a man or a woman, it’s still love, right? Compassion is still the same thing, right? These kinds of emotions are not only for a certain group of people. It is universal.

Olsen: And I’m curious how, with that approach, you navigated your early career, especially doing action films?

Yeoh: When I first started out, I walked into a man’s world because I started my career in Hong Kong and all of us women tended to play the damsel in distress. For me, because action was just like one kind of movement and it was choreographed, everything was planned. I’ve had training as a dancer, as a ballerina, and I’m a sports person, so I understood and was fascinated by that. But then it was very much the boys’ club.

So it’s very easy to say, “I want to join your club,” but you have to prove your worth. Because these boys didn’t get in that club by saying, “I want to be there.” They proved their worth time and time again with like Jackie [Chan] and Sammo [Hung] and Jet Li, and the list goes on and on and on. So they stood there and say, “OK, you want to join? OK, let’s see what you can do.” At some point you go, like, “Be careful what you wish for,” because it’s a tough, tough world. But luckily I was, I’m a tough, tough kid as well.

Olsen: I wonder, do you ever look back on any of the stunts from your earlier films, like the motorcycle jump in “Supercop,” and wonder, like, “What was I thinking? How did I do that?” Like, when people show you those clips now, what do you think of some of those stunts you did earlier in your career?

Yeoh: It’s so funny you should say that because it’s true when you look back, ’cause when “Supercop,” it’s the movie that I did with Jackie — and we did some of the craziest stunts ever — and we had to re-dub it in English because it was coming to America. So when you’re dubbing in and you’re going like, “Oh my God, what the?” and it all comes back to you.

And I’m thinking, “But at that point of my life and career, I was pretty much fearless,” because I was so focused on: “I am going to show the world I can do this!” And I was fit. I was working with my stunt people. I knew what I was doing. I felt I had control in my hands, but sometimes it’s not about you being in control.

If you look at the car chase and things like that, I was literally strapped to the side of the car. And at one point I heard the driver just, like, explode into all the most foul words possible. And he was swerving where he was not supposed to be swerving because the car was coming in the wrong way. And that could have been a tragedy. And you can’t go anywhere. If you watch that whole sequence, I’m just, like, sideways on the truck.

And that was my comeback movie, because I had retired from the scene for four years and so it was like, I have to demonstrate to the audience who has been so patient waiting for me that I’m on my top game. Today it’s like, “No, no, no, no, no, no. There’s special effects. Woo! CGI. Woo! Yes, you can do that.” And I don’t have to do it anymore.

Olsen: Because it’s one of the things that’s so remarkable about the role in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is, it does call on all these things that you have in your background, your dance background, your martial arts background. What was it like just preparing physically for this role? Was it different from when you’d get ready to do a more straight action or martial arts movie?

Yeoh: No, it’s the same. You know when you know your ABCs? You are going to be able to string your words and things like that if you keep practicing and if you keep using your skills, right? I practice every day. My flexibility is there. My stamina is there. So it’s like when you wake up, the first thing you do is you brush your teeth. You wash your face. So as I’m brushing my teeth, I’m doing my squats. And then I will do my kicks and things like that. I’ve worked it into a routine where it’s like multitasking, I guess.

So the physical side is not something that we have to consciously go, “OK!” Because remember, we come from Hong Kong incredible action martial arts movies, where at that time we had no rehearsal time. So you learn it on the spot and you do it. So it’s almost like your head doesn’t have to remember all those things. It’s like the instinct, OK, pa-pa-pa-pa; move on. Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa; move on.

So the preparation was really getting the family together and getting to know each other, not spending that time on learning the moves. Because fortunately, the Le brothers, Andy and Brian, they grew up watching the action films of Hong Kong. And I looked at some of the moves and I go, “It looks very familiar.” And they go, “We took it from your movie!” I’m, like, “OK!”

Olsen: Did you end up with a favorite fight scene or action scene from “Everything Everywhere”? Is there one that really stands out to you?

Yeoh: What I love about when you do the fight scene, it’s also about the drama. ‘Cause you know you have only two hands and two feet, the punches and the kicks — it’s all there. It’s just a different combination each time. But if you don’t have the drama of what you are fighting, then it’s like, it’s just another fight sequence. It’s just another car chase. It’s like, blah, blah, blah, blah.

The most funny, I think, an emotional fight sequence was the one with Jamie Lee Curtis, when she finally gets her head through the wall…

[Clip from “Everything Everywhere All at Once”: Sound effects of fight scene between Yeoh and Curtis’ characters, ending with Curtis’ character crashing through a stairwell wall.]

Yeoh: And Jamie, bless her, she did everything. I mean, she came, like, “Ahhh” down the wire by herself. And I was like, “Jamie, good for you!” ’Cause that is what you want. You want to see that kind of, “I want to be engaged, I want to be part of this.” And Jamie has not really done that kind of martial arts. But you can see she can move. She understands where it’s going.

That scene was also a challenge for me because it was [my character] Evelyn Wang having gone to another universe — gone to learn all these kinds of moves — now come back. I remember that when I did it the first time, and the Daniels came up and said, “Oh, Michelle, could you not look so confident?”

Because we are always taught to look confident and know exactly what you’re doing. But in this one, it’s like Evelyn Wang discovering the fact that, “Oh my God! Look, my hand is moving that way!” So your face and your hands and you know, it’s like suddenly you really have to split. It’s like your brain has to fracture. So that for me was very fun, ’cause I had not done it in that way before.

It’s like the fight sequence between the Le brothers, the butt plug, oh my God! I completely cracked up. I just lay there on the ground and go, “I can’t believe I’m doing this.” So the humor and the drama drives that scene rather than it just being a showcase of the fight sequences.

Olsen: So, Michelle, aside from the physical action in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” we see you playing dozens of characters throughout a multiverse. And how did you keep track of them all and give each Evelyn a distinct personality and physicality? Was it a challenge to make all of those characters unique?

Yeoh: It’s homework. That’s our job. It’s homework. So I have this, my own method of doing it. I map out the characters. For example, if you do a movie about a character that goes through time and space or years, so you have to be very aware of the emotional arc, where it’s going, why it’s going this way. So you map out the life of a person. What I do is I map out the history as well. Who is Evelyn Wang? I need to know where she came from.

And in this movie, it tells you she came from China. When she was brought into the world, she was already a disappointment because she was a girl. So why would she look like this? So we had a wig made because I wanted her hair — because she has no time to go to the salon or to the spa lalalala or do facials and things like that. This is a woman on a mission to try and make ends meet and get her business done right. She’s like in her 50s, so her hair should be showing whites or whatever it is, and it should be just pulled back. ‘Cause these women have no time for any special styling and things like this.

But then we didn’t want her to look like a mess mess. So I worked very closely with Anissa [E. Salazar] and Michelle [Chung] — Anissa does more the hair and Michelle that did my makeup — it was like: Age her.

Because Evelyn is aged by the suffering, the pain. Yeah, they came for the American dream, but it’s not always a dream. Sometimes it’s a nightmare. And this weighs on you. Then she’s running a laundromat, and what happens to a person who’s always lifting heavy things and doing, working with her hands? So cut nails, cut to the bare minimum. She sort of like slouches sideways because she’s always lifting heavy things. So that, for me, was very important.

Olsen: At least one Evelyn is sort of drawn from your real life. We see footage of you —

Yeoh: As a movie star.

Olsen: — as a movie star on the red carpet for “Crazy Rich Asians.” Were there other aspects of any of the Evelyns that you felt you were drawing from yourself in your own life?

Yeoh: I, when I looked at that, I don’t see my own life in that. Because in Evelyn’s universe where she was the movie star, right, it was like her dream come true, but then there was no Joy, right? There was no husband. She was shackled. She was handcuffed to being there. So it is very far removed from my whole perspective of being in this world.

So I couldn’t draw from “me.” I think for Evelyn, it was like the regret, you know, “I chose this man, but if I didn’t, that is what I could have.” And then suddenly, as time went on, she realized, “Yes. Yeah, but then where’s my daughter, where’s Joy? Where is Waymond?” The Waymond that I — yes, this one is very suave, he’s better looking — but it means that Waymond can be that. But is that what you want? Right? At whatever universe, at the end of the day, she realizes, “I will always want to be with you, and you will always be enough for me.”

And I think that was the beauty about that Evelyn’s movie world. It is so sad. I felt so sad for Ke’s character, Waymond, you know? That you think your life would have been better without me — it’s like, what a blow when you say that to your partner, right?

Olsen: I’m curious to know that there are times in the multiverse when between Evelyn and Waymond and Joy, the three of you are switching between Mandarin, Cantonese, English and then kind of a combination of Chinese and English. Was that scripted? Was that something you all realized you kind of could just do because you had a multilingual cast? It’s an unusual thing in the movie, and I’m wondering how it came about.

Yeoh: It was very intentional on my part, um, because that is the reality of an immigrant family, right? Because when you come here, the first thing is they had to learn English. Some families, when they have a child, it’s almost like, “No! She has, or he has, to blend in and fit in,” and all those kind of things. So they almost don’t learn the language, which is the case for Joy. But like, the old generation, when the father comes, he doesn’t speak a word of English. So you find this in a lot of the immigrant families who are like that. And we wanted, whoever comes from an immigrant — Asian immigrant — family would recognize that right away.

It is very confusing when you are watching it at the beginning, but we wanted you to feel that. We wanted you to step into what is a real representation of what an Asian immigrant family would be at home. They speak to each other. They talk about the poor, poor girlfriend of Joy’s, who was there and they would talk about her in a different language. It’s like, “Hello, Mom, she’s right here,” you know? It’s like, “Why are you not talking to her?”

And that happens all the time, and when they make a comment, they always go for the jugular. It’s like, “Oh, you’re getting fat. You’re not doing this, you’re not —” ’cause the intention, really, it’s not to be critical. But it’s their way to say, “You can be better, and I will help point out what are the things that can help you be better.” And in their minds, it’s like, “When you are better, you will get better opportunities. Things will come your way, and then you will look the part, be the part and be able to do it right.”

Olsen: And then as you said, the sort of the emotional core of the story really is in this family. And as you mentioned, you just had a little bit of rehearsal time with yourself and Ke Huy Quan and Stephanie Hsu and James Hong. How did you come to create that family dynamic among the four of you? Because it really does feel like a real family in the movie.

Yeoh: We were all cast well. And it’s an effort on everybody’s part to be committed. But that’s how it works. When you are not lazy, you don’t take it for granted, it’s not entitled to you, you know? This is your opportunity, and if you don’t come in your A game, with the rest of us are going to shame you to hell! But we became a real family because we saw every single person that was involved in this whole process.

And at the time when we started, it was like, in Asia we have a ceremony where we — actually, it’s like a blessing, it’s not a religious ceremony — where we make offerings, it’s simple to say to the gods, but really to the place where we are, to say, “We are here on this property. We seek your permission to be here. Please bless us, and if you do, you will allow us smooth sailing as we are here for these next weeks.”

And then it was very fortuitous because it was also during the time of Chinese New Year. So it brought what it is to be Asian even more to the forefront. I think those were the little nuances or little things that they would do, which brings us all even closer together into trying to show the rest of the world what it is like to be this immigrant family.

Olsen: It’s been so beautiful from the outside to watch as the movie’s been coming out, the way in which Ke Huy Kwan has responded to the fact that people have been so overjoyed to see him coming back. He’s one of those people I think we didn’t realize how much we missed him. What has it been like for you to sort of be next to him during this time and to sort of see him going through this process of being rediscovered in the way that he has?

Yeoh: It’s fantastic, you know. And the only reason that he has — it’s not about being rediscovered. He was always there, but he didn’t have the role to play, right? If there had been more roles like this, he could have come back sooner ’cause his talent didn’t go away. The crux of the matter is, where are these roles?

Olsen: Mm-hmm.

Yeoh: Like maybe four years ago, before “Crazy Rich Asians” came out, there weren’t even stories like this that were told. So I am very proud of Ke. He saw the opportunity and he ran for it. But what I’m saying is: Give us more opportunities. Stephanie deserved this kind of opportunity. Harry Shum [Jr.] deserved this kind of opportunity. Ronny Chieng — they all deserve these kinds of opportunities.

We need storytellers. It’s just that I think what has happened is that glass ceiling has been shattered. It goes to prove that the audience, as long as you’re a good storyteller, I don’t care about whether it is Asian or Hispanic or what. You’re telling me a story that I can relate to. The kids that are coming up to me are not all Asians. But you know that they are young people.

I think, yes, of course it reflects much more deeply to the Asian bases because they say, “I can see myself there on the screen, which means I am seen. I can do things. I will be given the opportunity to do things.” So it’s been a good journey.

Olsen: In your acceptance speech for the Golden Globes, you said that Hollywood was “a dream come true until I got here.” What you’re talking about — is that what you mean by that? That once you got here, you didn’t get the opportunities that you thought you would?

Yeoh: Because if you think about it, when I got here, it was that time where there was no inclusivity. There was no real representation. At that point, like I said, 26 years ago, the only one movie was “Joy Luck Club.” Right? And remember: I came from Asia, I came from Hong Kong, I came from Malaysia, where I grew up watching movies that were international.

Hollywood was a dream, right? ‘Cause Asia, the market is there. Then you have to fight for the European market, and we all had to adopt English names to be able to sell our movies, tell our stories, so that people would go, “Oh, OK, we can relate to this.”

Then the John Woo, the Tsui Hark, the Johnnie Tos, they were coming out to America. Ringo Lam, you know? Because that is a dream for every single filmmaker. Because Hollywood — that’s where real dreams are made. Because we were still playing in a small pond. We were great in our place, but you want to be global, you want to be international, and the only way you can do it is get to Hollywood and make sure you do those kind of films.

So I get there and I think the first thing that strikes you — and you keep hearing this — “Oh yeah, you’re a minority.” And I’m like, what does that even mean? Because I’m Malaysian. I grew up in a very multiracial society. So then coming here to America was like, “Oh my God, OK, now I’m a minority.” How can Chinese people be a minority with so many — the numbers, right? So there’s more people looking like me than you guys! So it was a little, I don’t know if maybe I can say culture shock. And then they don’t know China, Korea, Japan, Malaysia — they’re all different places. And then they were quite stunned when they go, “Oh, you speak English?” [Snoring noise]

And I was like, “Guys, whoa, this is—!?” But this was how it was in Hollywood at that time. This was the norm at that time.

But I was very, very fortunate to meet with people, forward-thinking directors, who understood. And I think my biggest break came when Barbara Broccoli came looking for me to do “Tomorrow Never Dies,” to go for an audition with Pierce Brosnan. You know, the Bond legacy is always about being forward thinking. That was my first big introduction to that world.

Olsen: Hmm. And now just one last question, and I certainly don’t want to jinx anything here. If you were to win the Oscar for best actress, you’d be the first Asian woman ever to do so. What would that mean to you?

Yeoh: That was the thing: It’s like it’s almost it’s not about me. It’s very strange because at the beginning I think like you, “Do — do — don’t jinx me, I —” No. I would — “Yes! Please. Please!” Who doesn’t want it? Who doesn’t want to be, youknow, like, validated by your peers, validated by people that you love and respect and in awe with, and say, “I just want a seat at the table. I would like to be able to join you all and sit at the table.” Right?

And the scary thing is, like, people come up to you and say, “You have to do it for us. You’re going to do it for us.” And you go, “Oh, OK. All right. I’m going to do my best.” And I think the result is, we did our best for the movie, and that’s all you can do as an actor. And then you send it on its own journey and you hope the stars align. And I think it did. In many ways, the stars align for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

So what does it mean to me? It means the whole world to me. Right? Maybe we did not start the journey by saying, “That’s where we want to get to,” because you don’t!

And then things have to happen. I think it was such a people’s movie. It’s so visceral how the connections have been made. So, yes! I keep praying every night. Everything’s across. It’s like, thank you. Thank you for seeing me. Thank you for having given me that opportunity to show you what I really can do.

Olsen: Well, Michelle, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s really just been a pleasure talking to you.

Yeoh: Absolutely!

Olsen: And best of luck with everything moving forward.

Yeoh: Thank you. Thank you, Mark.

Script developed by Never Enough Design