Looking back at when Michelle Yeoh wrote for the Evening Standard

Michelle Yeoh at the Oscars 2023  (Getty Images)
Michelle Yeoh at the Oscars 2023 (Getty Images)

Michelle Yeoh has just won the Best Actress Oscar for playing exhausted laundromat owner Evelyn Wang in Everything Everywhere All At Once.

The win makes her the first Asian woman to ever win the Best Actress award. Yeoh’s longtime commitment to her craft has been a theme in some of her interviews over the years. In 2012, Yeoh wrote in the Standard about her role in the 2000 Oscar-winning Ang Lee-directed film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, in which she played female warrior Yu Shu Lien. Read that piece here:

I was sold on the idea of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon when director Ang Lee called me.

He said it was "Sense And Sensibility with martial arts". I love his films, and I knew I would learn a lot from him. So I was prepared to wait. I had just done the Bond movie, Tomorrow Never Dies, which was fun - but I wanted to do a film with much more emotional depth. I waited until Ang had finished Ride With The Devil.

In the film, I play Yu-Shu-Lien, the former fighting companion and reluctant lover of Li Mu-bai (Chow Yun-Fat), who sets out to recover a magical sword. It is a fairy tale - but one steeped in our culture. It was worth a two-year wait because this genre deserves respect and dignity.

It's never easy to find that balance, when it's such a magical type of film - to make you accept characters soaring to the skies. It was a risk, but when we did this movie, it was for a Western audience. The Bond film was a piece of cake by comparison. This was more challenging.

It took dedication, discipline and stamina to perform the fights. On a 12-hour shoot, how do you place yourself to do that? Every single punch and kick has to be 100 per cent, or else Ang Lee would say "Do it again?" How many "Do it agains" can you do, if you don't have the stamina?