The Crazy Rich Asians star endured a career-threatening injury and depression — and survived with unexpected help.
Over 25 years ago, Michelle Yeoh injured herself during a stunt while filming the Hong Kong action flick The Stunt Woman. It nearly ended her career, the actress recalled in a new profile in The Hollywood Reporter. It also knocked her into a deep depression that made her question what she was doing and whether it was even worth it to be a movie star. It was an existential crisis that apparently only filmmaker Quentin Tarantino could help pull her out of:
Of all people, it was Quentin Tarantino who snapped her out of it. The martial arts aficionado was in Hong Kong and had just three people on his wish list to meet: Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh. After much wheedling from the American, Yeoh finally granted him a five-minute audience. She was propped up on her couch, unable even to turn her head when he arrived. Undeterred, Tarantino plopped down on a pillow at her feet. “I’ve watched all your movies,” he told her, proceeding to recount his favorite action sequences frame for frame.
The conversation apparently shook Yeoh out of her slump. “The next thing I knew, we were talking and I was coming back to life,” Yeoh said. “I’ll never forget it. It was like, ‘I do love what I do.’ And that was a turning point where I felt, ‘I’ve paid my dues.’”
The actress, who was then mainly an action star in Hong Kong, went on to expand what has become a prolific career as an international A-lister — not long after her injury, she made her first big step into Hollywood with the James Bond blockbuster Tomorrow Never Dies. Yet, despite her renowned status, Yeoh has never had standalone top billing in an American film, until now with the upcoming sci-fi epic Everything Everywhere All At Once.
The role, she explained, is not only Yeoh’s first big spotlight, but also one that, directed by the filmmaking duo known as the Daniels (whose last film Swiss Army Knife revolved around Daniel Radcliffe as a flatulent-powered corpse), pushes her acting into entirely new territories as a frumpy, funny, and emotionally vulnerable mother. “It’s like when you get hit for the first time,” she said. “In a way, it was very liberating. I had all these fearless people around me, so what have I got to be afraid of? Let’s all just dive in and see what happens.”
Everything Everywhere All At Once comes out in theaters on April 8.