Michelle Yeoh is a near lock to land an Oscar nomination for best actress thanks to her acclaimed performance in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” but it’s a role she nearly walked away from all due to her character’s name. Speaking to Cate Blanchett as part of Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series, Yeoh revealed that her character’s original name in the script was Michelle Wang. “Everything Everywhere,” directed by Daniels, casts Yeoh as a dissatisfied laundromat owner who becomes a multiverse warrior.
“This is like a roller coaster, right?” Yeoh told Blanchett. “Put away your phones, put on your safety belts. With the Daniels, I had to see if they were certifiably insane, in the best possible way. It’s very important that I feel the director is a visionary and I’m one of their tools.”
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Yeoh continued, “The only thing I said to them was, ‘The character cannot be called Michelle Wang.’ They’re like, ‘But why? It’s so you.’ I’m like, ‘No, I’m not an Asian immigrant mother who’s running a laundromat. She needs her own voice.’ That was the only thing. I’m like, ‘If you don’t change the name, I’m not coming in.'”
The character’s name was ultimately changed to Evelyn Wang, and now Yeoh is likely heading to the Academy Awards after earning some of the best reviews of her career. Her beloved performance in the movie even led Time magazine to name Yeoh as its icon of 2022.
“I always want to work with younger directors,” Yeoh told Blanchett earlier in the conversation about why she said yes to the movie. “Because they throw challenges at you that don’t come your way often. I was very gratified that finally I was getting a script with a very nondescript woman, immigrant woman, and she’s been around us for the longest time, trying to live the American dream — and so have I. And to make such an ordinary woman be extraordinary, it’s very fulfilling, because I think that is all of us.”
Michelle Yeoh required her character's name in #EverythingEverywhereAllAtOnce be changed: "The character cannot be called Michelle Wang…I'm not an Asian immigrant mother who's running a laundromat. She needs her own voice." https://t.co/Ais7qUnVYd pic.twitter.com/WA0MMQQBAR
— Variety (@Variety) December 8, 2022
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” grossed over $100 million worldwide after opening in theaters last spring. Watch Blanchett and Yeoh’s full “Actors on Actors” conversation in the video below.
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