What Michelle Yeoh Learned from Jamie Lee Curtis: ‘She’s Friggin’ Hollywood Royalty — and So Generous’

Jason Sheeler

March 2, 2023

Article taken from People

Michelle Yeoh tells PEOPLE her Everything Everywhere All at Once costar Jamie Lee Curtis is “one of the most generous in spirit that I have ever met”

“The love between me and Jamie Lee Curtis, it’s all real, yeah,” Michelle Yeoh says. On the set of her PEOPLE cover shoot, the Oscar nominee is talking about her costar — and fellow first-time Oscar nominee — Curtis.

They have been each other’s hype woman throughout awards season. But, says Yeoh, this friendship goes deeper than acceptance speeches.

“We have known each other for many years,” Yeoh, 60, says, but when they came together on the set of Everything Everywhere All at Once, something clicked. Well, actually, even before filming began.

“We fell in love on first email. She was like, ‘Let’s ditch the directors of the movie, the Daniels, and run away!’ I was like, ‘A woman after my own heart.’ ” Yeoh turns serious. “When you meet someone and have that connection, it’s not the length of time you’ve known them. A friendship became a very precious relationship.”

Yeoh’s first text of the day is usually from Curtis, 64. “She wakes up very early and I’m an early bird as well, so we end up texting each other. She’s rooting for me. Jamie Lee is one of the most generous in spirit that I have ever met. She’s always giving. She’s always sending me something and texting ‘Did you get it bae?’ She’s always sharing. And yet at the same time, she’s friggin’ Hollywood royalty — but she is nurturing.”

Yeoh says it’s not about the awards. (Both are now considered frontrunners for Oscars in their respective acting categories, with the film the frontrunner for Best Picture.) “For me, she’s already a winner. She’s always been a winner.”

She considers Curtis to be an inspiration, among several of the women in her life who’ve led — or pushed her along, including the producer of James Bond films, Barbara Broccoli. “We met when we shot Tomorrow Never Dies.” Yeoh says Broccoli changed her life.

“The first movie I did after I came to America was Tomorrow Never Dies with Pierce Brosnan,” says Yeoh. “James Bond at that point had only been known as macho, and the girls were just the ones with cutesy names.” As Chinese spy Wai Lin in the 1997 film, Yeoh forever upended the very notion of the “Bond Girl,” saving 007’s life, rejecting his advances and standing on equal footing with the most alpha of males.

“Barbara knew that the Bond legacy needed to evolve with the world and what was demanded from their audience as well,” she says.

“I’ve always been surrounded by women who are very independent, very strong, very smart, and also were very wise, because sometimes I really do take offense when someone says, ‘Oh yeah, she’s tough. She’s a real b—-.’ And I’m like, ‘No. A woman who is tough doesn’t have to be that.’ You can be a b—- for fun, but not like that. And women who are in positions of power are not neurotic. They deserve to be there because they worked hard at it, and sometimes we have to work even harder to get to that position.”

Yeoh grew up in the city of Ipoh, known for tin mining. Her father, Kian Teik, was a lawyer and politician, and her mother, Janet, a former beauty queen. “My mom was very young when she had us,” Yeoh says, referencing her brother. “She was 22 when she was pregnant with me, so I think she’s more the child sometimes. It was my grandmother who nurtured us. You learn as a child to take in what kindness is, what gentleness is, what caring and warmth are. That’s very important.”

If her grandmother taught her love, it was her mother who ignited her passion.

One of the reasons I am here today is because of my mom — she is the diva, the one who loves movies. I grew up watching movies from India, Europe, America and China. I’ve always seen representations of myself on the big screen,” she says. “Actually, my mother would’ve made one of the greatest movie stars if she’d had the chance. She laid it on me, which is a good thing.”

Script developed by Never Enough Design