Michelle Yeoh on working with Emilia Clarke and playing ‘Santa’ in ‘Last Christmas’
Express News Service
November 8, 2019
Michelle Yeoh, known for films such as Tomorrow Never Dies and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, is back for Last Christmas. Directed by Paul Feig, Yeoh plays a store owner called Santa who works with the lead character, Kate, played by Emilia Clarke.
What did you think when Paul asked you to play a character named Santa?
Paul told me he had been asked to direct this script by Emma Thompson. I am a huge fan of Emma, who is an amazing actress, writer, director and producer, so my admiration knows no bounds. He then said to me, ‘There is this really funny cool role and you will be perfect for it. It’s playing Santa.’ I was like, ‘Santa?’ You want me to put on a fat suit and a white beard and go, ‘Ho, ho, ho? What are you talking about?’ But Paul has got a great sense of humour and he said, ‘No, not that Santa.
You will make her your own Santa.’ Then he went on to tell me about her and he sent me the script and when I saw it I thought, ‘This could be very interesting,’ because I have never played a character like that, so quirky. I was filming Star Trek, Season 2, so I was overwhelmed and I had a lot of things lined up to do. But I wanted to work with Paul and Emma. So, I asked my manager to make it work and that’s how Last Christmas happened.
Did you enjoy your character’s romantic adventures?
That was quite a surprise because when you read it on paper you think, ‘How the heck do we play that scene?’ And I thought that Peter [Mygind] was just amazing. I was a little bit worried that we were going to be a bit over the top. And I was a little bit apprehensive because I have never played such a character. In all my movies my characters are much more grounded, conscientious, and true to who they are.
This one is a bit more flighty. I worked on her little swagger and the way she walks, things like that, to make her different. The way she flounces in is a little melodramatic but not absolutely over the top. And the love story, oh boy. Peter was the one that really brought that sense of ‘it is okay to be swept away’.
The film does shine the light on some serious issues, whether homelessness, being an immigrant, the need for a family to come together. Was that prominent in the script?
Oh, yes. It jumps right up at you. Emilia’s character is someone who is very lost in her own world and is not helping herself find the right way. But the people who come into her world help her to recognise something, and that is the spirit of Christmas—loving and giving and sharing and caring. I think that was really powerful. I also loved the part of the script where it tells us to look up. That is so reflective of what we go through today.