If there’s one word to describe Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh, it’s passion.
And in a recent interview with GQ, where the 59-year-old breaks down her most iconic characters, she talks about each character with such conviction and depth that you can’t help but feel taken.
However, there’s one that takes the cake, though, and it’s her lead role as Evelyn Wang in Everything Everywhere All At Once. In fact, it’s the role she’s been waiting for in her decades-long career and she cried while talking about it.
“When I read the script, I thought, ‘This is something…’ Oh dear,” Michelle said as she became emotional.
Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn in Everything Everywhere All at Once. PHOTO: mm2 Entertainment
Her voice broke, she teared, and continued: “This is something I’ve been waiting for for a long time. That’s going to give me the opportunity to show my friends, my family, my audience what I’m capable of. To be funny, to be real, to be sad. Finally, somebody understood that I can do all these things.”
Indeed, the veteran actress has had an extensive acting career — having been in films since 1985 — but Evelyn is really a role unlike any other. Some of her other iconic roles include Eleanor Young in Crazy Rich Asians and Jiang Nan in Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings.
Michelle Yeoh has played several iconic roles during the past few decades like Jiang Nan (left) and Eleanor Young (right).
PHOTO: Instagram/shangchi (left) and Instagram/michelleyeoh_official
Being a Bond girl
She was also the first Chinese Bond girl and her character was widely regarded as one of the best in the series.
“It was always very much the man’s world – all the guys loved to be James Bond and the women were almost always the Bond girls,” said Michelle as she used her hands to mimic the shape of an hourglass figure, implying that Bond girls had to be of a certain physique.
“But they were ready at the time when they came looking for me to have much more depth, emotions, and the quality of nature of their film.”
The actress recalled her first experience meeting Barbara Broccoli, one of the main producers of the film, whom she describes as “the most amazing, strong, powerful woman”.
She added: “I think because of her, that kind of character, that strong woman was pushed very much far forward in the front.”
Understanding Eleanor Young
Michelle loved how many people reacted to her character Eleanor, the mother of Nick Young in the film Crazy Rich Asians.
“Everybody loved the line when I said ‘You will never be enough’,” she laughed.
“I had young people coming up to me and say ‘I understand my mom better now’ or ‘I understand my mother-in-law better now’ [or] ‘I can go back and have a conversation with my mom now’ and I think that was very important.”
Michelle explained that her approach to playing Eleanor was to first understand the character and where she was coming from.
“The general mother’s role — to nurture, to protect, but then the most important is to let go. And I approached it like that, knowing these are the feelings that a mother would have. So that when I am there as Eleanor Young, I am a mother. I am just simply a mother who loves her son.”
This article was first published on AsiaOne and republished on theAsianparent with permission.
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