Michelle Yeoh on Her ‘Everything Everywhere’ Stunts and the Hot Dog Fingers Scene With Jamie Lee Curtis
June 8, 2022
“Everything Everywhere All at Once,” A24’s genre-bending, dark comedy, has arrived on Apple TV and Prime Video, giving audiences a chance to experience the film all over again, or for the first time.
The A24 film stars Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn Wang, an exhausted mother and wife whose laundromat is being audited by the IRS. While she’s sitting with her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) across from inspector Deirdre Beaubeirdra (Jamie Lee Curtis), she’s suddenly transported into a parallel dimension and spends the film jumping through multiverses.
Yeoh, no stranger to doing her own stunts, as seen in her films “Supercop” and “Silver Hawk,” took on most of the stunts for this film. Here, Yeoh talks with Variety about preparing for the film and breaking down some of her favorite stunts.
What training did you have to do for this role?
Fortunately, because I exercise I shadowbox and do my kicks. For me, if you know your alphabet, you know how to string your words together, so my alphabet is that basic movement.
Physical fighting is relatively easy because I’ve been doing it for so many years. When you’re playing with and using weapons like a fight board or butt plug, I’ll say to the prop master to give me something similar so when I’m not on set and I have time, I can be practicing certain moves. So, it just takes practice.
It’s not so much about rehearsal time, it was more about getting there and learning it. The easy part was the choreography and the execution. The most difficult part was to contain the laughter, especially with the butt plug fight. I was scrambling around with Andy Le and we lose our powers as we were both trying to get to the butt plug. His brother Brian comes in with just his shirt, and I saw this thing hanging out of him, and I completely lost it.
What was it like filming the staircase fight scene and working with Jamie Lee Curtis?
Jamie is game for everything. She’s so inspirational because she’s not just an amazing actress, she’s a truly generous person and very committed.
I said to her, “Jamie, don’t put me through the wall, we’re just acting.” When she came down that staircase, I said to her, “Are you sure you want to do this?” and she replied, “When else am I going to get a chance to do this?” But when we were doing that fight sequence, it was like a dance. It’s about timing. She’s so good and she’s smart and she’s very physical.
The one thing that the Daniels did was come up to me and tell me that I was looking too good because Evelyn doesn’t know how to fight. She suddenly has these skills. She’s confused and stunned, and her hands are doing these things. She’s thinking “What the hell am I doing?” as my character is blocking Deidre. So that was an interesting challenge and transformation and fracturing of the brain when it came to that. When I signed up for this, I knew there were a lot of things that I had not tried before, and I was allowed to go crazy and do something with it.
What was your reaction when you read the butt plug fight scene?
The Daniels are unapologetic when it comes to the raunchiness. They’re really going to fling around dildos in a fight. Going into it, I couldn’t imagine it, but I believed in them and I trusted them. When you do something like this, you have to believe in it, otherwise, it just doesn’t work. And we all dove into it together. [The script said], “She pulls out two butt plugs simultaneously.” I thought “How the hell am I going to do that?” But it’s all about timing.
It also wasn’t us doing that. When you rig wire work, it’s not easy. There are two sets of people going in opposite directions. There’s our amazing DP, Larkin Seiple, so we had that moving camera that needed to follow everything. There were so many things we needed to get right, but I think that scene took four or five takes.”
That was my favorite fight because it was the most fun. It was just this long continuous fight. That whole sequence from Jamie chasing us to Jenny Slate’s character with her dog, it was so ridiculously absurd and funny. It was like being on a rollercoaster and you don’t know where the next drop is.
Did you get hurt during the filming of this at all?
The hot dog scene is the most beautiful love story in that universe. We had these hot dog fingers; this is where I believe that filmmaking is a complete collaboration on all the different levels. It’s never about one person or two people or whatever it is. It is a true collaboration. And when you work with someone like Jamie, we looked at one another and said, “Let’s go for it.” This is the scene where we’re going at it with our hot dog fingers, and those things are like hoses. They’re made to fit, but they’re made of silicone. The next day she came back and was covered in bruises and I asked her if she had had an accident. She had all these bruises on her thighs from just going for it.