Michelle Yeoh was on a Zoom call Tuesday with her “everything everywhere at once” family — including co-stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Ki Hui Kwan and James Hong, and directors Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan — when she received the news that her family was “full of joy.” : Nominated for Best Actress for her performance as the villainous Laundress in the film, a sci-fi acidic journey through time, space, and human experience.
“We want to hold hands,” she said on the phone shortly after the nominations were announced, “even though they’re in America and I’m in Paris now, and so we’ve been screaming at the top of our heads.” no wonder: “everything everywhere at once” It leads today with 11 nominations, including Best Picture.
should you win, Yoh – who was born in Malaysia and became a movie star in Asia before crossing the world in films like ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ (2000) and ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ (2018) – became the first Asian woman to win an Oscar for actress. (She won The first Golden Globe earlier this month.)
“Ninety-five years of the Academy Awards,” she said. “Of course, I’m over the moon, but I feel a little sad because I know we know there are amazing actresses from Asia coming before me, and I’m standing on their shoulders.” She added, “I hope this shatters the endlessly tense glass ceiling, that this continues, and we’ll see more of our faces out there.”
Yeoh, 60, said the film, which came out last March and became a surprise box office success amid the pandemic, resonated in part because it came “at a time when we all needed to heal.”
She explained, “We’ve been through such a crazy, chaotic time in our lives, and we all needed something that would fill us with hope and ensure we would as long as we could show kindness, compassion, and love to each other and never give up on your family.”
Hope was on the mind of the actress, who earlier in the week responded to the mass shootings in the Monterey Park, Calif., Asian American community where Lunar New Year celebrations were being held. “At a time when our society should be celebrating new beginnings, we are now in mourning,” she wrote on Instagram.
When asked about her candidacy at a time of grief, she said, “The one thing we always need is hope,” adding, “We always need to be able to hold our heads up and move forward. All of our hearts are so broken for what happened in Monterey Park.”
At the heart of the film is the fraught relationship between a mother and daughter, two characters who struggle to navigate very different everyday realities (and very different multidimensional unrealities). Yeoh wasn’t surprised that this dynamic resonated with so many viewers, but she was touched by her healing power. Older women approached her to say that although they did not understand the film, it had helped their relationships with their daughters.
Yoh recalls an onlooker telling of her estranged daughter calling after years of not speaking. “We got engaged now and we have a relationship because of your movie,” Yeoh recalled the woman saying. “Sometimes when a movie like this comes along and you feel like you’ve healed people, that’s an amazing prize.”
For Yeoh, a former stuntwoman who has been in the industry for decades, “everything” was a showcase of her many talents. Thinking about her long career can be bittersweet, she said, “but then, other times, it’s like I love what I do. I have such a passion for film acting and all that. So it’s like you don’t do it for the awards.” You do it because you want to give your best.”
“But of course, please give me the Oscar, man,” she said, laughing. “It’s just a tribute to the saying, never give up. If you believe in yourself, you never give up. It took me 40 years, but it’s here.”