Michelle Yeoh has been having a successful few years, with Crazy Rich Asians, Shang-Chi, and now Everything Everywhere All at Once bringing talk of an Oscar nomination. In a new interview with Town and Country Magazine, she discusses how close she came to being in a Tarantino movie.
Tarantino has been passionate about Yeoh since her 1980s kung-fu days; “I was just a huge, huge fan of hers. There was always a twinkle in her eye,” he says. Yeoh took a break in 1987 after she got married, but returned to the screens in 1992 with Supercop, which according to Tarantino, motivated Uma Thurman while she was filming Kill Bill.
In 1995, Tarantino’s star was rising thanks to Pulp Fiction, and at the same time Michelle Yeoh fractured some of her vertebrae while filming The Stunt Woman and was considering retiring from action movies. Tarantino was in Hong Kong screening Pulp Fiction and wanted to meet his hero. “I must say, Quentin, he’s persistent. He is who he is today because he’s full of passion and love, so he wore me down.” He sat on a pillow at her feet and began to recite each of her stunts in detail.
Yeoh continues; “So then I thought, Maybe I’m not ready to give up on this.” According to Yeoh, it was Tarantino’s encouragement that led her to be cast in 1997’s Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies – her first big English language film.
But why wasn’t she in Tarantino’s kung-fu movie love-letter Kill Bill? “I asked Quentin the same question. He’s very smart. He said, ‘Who would believe that Uma Thurman could kick your ass?’”
Now aged 60, Yeoh is having a wonderful resurgence in her career. Everything Everywhere All at Once certainly demonstrates her range – from dramatic scenes, to still doing a few kung-fu moves. Check out our guide to the best action movies.