Michelle Yeoh's New Role Was Originally Written for Jackie Chan, Reveal Movie's Directors

Everything Everywhere All at Once, which premiered at SXSW on March 11, hits theaters on April 8

Vanity Fair Oscar Party, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 24 Feb 2019

Michelle Yeoh wasn't originally slated for the leading role in her latest film.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter published Tuesday, director duo Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, collectively known as Daniels, revealed that Jackie Chan was the person envisioned for the lead role in Everything Everywhere All at Once, which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival last Friday in Austin, Texas.

"At first we were like, 'Action movie, going to star a dude,' " Scheinert said regarding the brothers' second film. But as Kwan explained, the partners took the role in a different direction.

"We were having trouble figuring out the casting for the father figure, and one of us started wondering what happens if we take Michelle's character and flop it and she becomes the protagonist," Kwan told THR. "And the film just opened up in a completely different way."

Everything Everywhere All At Once
Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022). David Bornfriend/A24

In Everything Everywhere All at Once, Yeoh, 59, portrays Evelyn Wang, a Chinese immigrant who "is swept up in an insane adventure, where she alone can save the world by exploring other universes connecting with the lives she could have led," according to IMDB. The film also stars Stephanie Hsu, Jenny Slate and Jamie Lee Curtis.

Though Yeoh was not originally imagined as the lead, she was always part of Daniels' ideal cast. The duo initially pictured Yeoh as Chan's wife but felt that bringing her in as the lead was a game-changer.

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"As soon as we switched it, we were like, 'Oh, now the husband and wife characters are more relatable. Why on earth didn't we write it this way from the get-go?' " Scheinert told to THR.

The next step was asking Yeoh to participate in the film, though Kwan said, "It felt like a bit of a pipe dream."

"[It was] really thrilling and really scary," he continued, "because we were like, 'No one else in the world can play this role. If she says no, maybe the movie dies.' "

Michelle Yeoh arrives for the 37th Film Independent Spirit Awards
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Contrary to their concerns, Yeoh was captivated by the script. "I love working with young directors because they bring a different energy," she told THR. "That's what I need: to be challenged, to have directors look at me in a different way."

Daniels' first met up with Yeoh at the Beverly Wilshire around the same time as the Crazy Rich Asians premiere in 2018, THR reports. Scheinert said the actress "immediately teased us for writing something so weird" with their first film Swiss Army Man from 2016 starring Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

He added that "it was so lovely that there was not this kind of standoffishness, but she wasn't fake nice either. It was like she was our aunt right away."

Kwan shared similar sentiments. "She has a very familial energy," the filmmaker told THR. "Everywhere she goes, she's very nurturing, and she feels very much like the matriarch of every situation she's in."

Everything Everywhere All at Once hits theaters on April 8.

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