Michelle Yeoh has said she felt pressured to retire from acting before landing the lead role in Everything Everywhere All At Once.
The actor received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her role in the sci-fi comedy-drama film, directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.
Speaking on The Envelope podcast, Yeoh, aged 60, explained that she was defiant against calls for her to retire before she was cast.
“You know, as you get older, the roles get smaller,” Yeoh said. “It seems like the numbers go up and these things go narrow and then you start getting relegated to the side more and more. So when Everything Everywhere came… it was very emotional because this means that you are the one who’s leading this whole process, who’s telling the story.”
She added: “You know, as you get older, people start saying, ‘Oh yeah, you should retire. You should do this. You should…’ No, guys. Do not tell me what to do. I should be in control of what I am capable of, right?”
Asked if anyone had said she should retire explicitly, Yeoh explained they hadn’t said it “in so many words”, adding: “But when you don’t get the roles and you’re just sitting there…”
She then pointed to actors like Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, who had set up their own production companies “because they saw that coming as well”.
Yeoh recently confirmed her part in Everything Everywhere All At Once was originally written for a man, with Jackie Chan in talks for the role.
Speaking to CNN, Yeoh said: “The roles were completely reversed. I remember Jackie texting me and saying, ‘Congratulations! You know your boys came to see me first.’ I’m like, ‘Thank you bro, you did me a huge favour.’”
NME named Everything Everywhere All At Once as its best film of 2022. In response, Kwan said: “It’s been a really good year for film, especially after the past few years where the pandemic made people funny about releases. We’ve been watching so many movies that we’ve fallen in love with, for so many different reasons.
“The fact people are putting us near the top of that list is so flattering. We might disagree with you, but it’s okay. We’re very grateful. Thank you. I can’t believe we got number one!”