Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) released an episode of their podcast, “The HFPA in Conversation” featuring Crazy Rich Asians star, Michelle Yeoh. Yeoh talks about the cultural significance of the film, as well as some highlights of her career including starring in a James Bond film with Pierce Brosnan, and filming a surprise commercial with Jackie Chan.
Her friends already had the idea for her to star in the film version of Crazy Rich Asians as soon as the book came out: “When the book first came out I got calls from my friends saying ‘you gotta make this movie’… and I was like ‘calm down I don’t know what the heck you’re talking about!’… I think my friends reacted to it so excitedly because it’s a story about friends that we know, people that we know that come from Hong Kong, and Singapore, and Malaysia, but it was done with such a great sense of human.” Yeoh said. On starring in the film that featuring a primarily Asian cast for the first time in 25 years, “It’s about time, honestly… I think people have had enough of being invisible. They want their stories to be told, and told in the proper way. What’s important about this is that it’s a real feel good movie. It will transcend whatever minorities, or ‘all Asian cast’ because it really is a good movie and a good story to tell.”
In the film, Yeoh plays Eleanor Young, who hosts a dinner party, in another, she prepares dumplings talks about her culinary skills. “I’d be preparing you a good drink! I am the world’s worst chef…. Making a real dumpling… that really takes skill! Asian families are very interesting. We’re not very good at vocalizing how much we love… so we normally use food to show how much we care.”
Yeoh starred in the James Bond, Tomorrow Never Dies: “I think I was very lucky because at that point they wanted James Bond not to be the misogynist, the only guy running around… and that the female lead didn’t need to be just the damsel in distress, or the femme fatale… they wanted an equal to James Bond and I was very fortunate that the writers knew who I was.”
Yeoh worked on a commercial with Jackie Chan: ‘When I went to Hong Kong, I met with the executive producer and he said ‘I’m glad you’re here, let’s shoot the commercial tomorrow and you’re going to be acting opposite this actor called Cheng Long, so I’m like ‘ok fine, Cheng Long’… and at that point my Cantonese is not very good… so I remember sitting there doing my hair and makeup early in the morning… and I turn around and I see someone running across the hall to where I was and I go ‘wow that run looks so familiar’… then I realized Cheng Long was actually Jackie Chan.