Michelle Yeoh explains the strange worlds of Everything Everywhere All At Once

The epic, action-packed sci-fi adventure All Everywhere Simultaneously transcends time and space and jumps into multiple universes. With so much happening – one could say, so much happening everywhere at the same time – it is essential for an analysis of what is happening. And who better to take us on a tour of the multiverse than its hub, longtime martial arts superstar Michelle Yeoh?

Yeoh stars as Evelyn, an ordinary woman just trying to pass IRS control in the family laundry. Her marriage to Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) is strained and her relationship with her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) and father (James Hong) is both strained. During an IRS appointment, Evelyn is suddenly sucked into an escape that breaks out in the universe.

In different realities and radically different possible lives, Yeoh takes Evelyn on her own emotional journey. Yeoh sat down with Polygon to dive into some of her favorites among these alternate schedules and lives, and share an idea of ​​what it was like to wag the hot dog fingers in Jamie Lee Curtis’s face.

[Ed. note: Major spoilers ahead for Everything Everywhere All At Once.]

The Evelyn movie universe

Evelyn in a sweeping dress

Picture: A24

One of the first alternative timelines in the film shows the life Evelyn would have lived if she had not run to America with Weymond when they were both young. After being rejected by Waymond (and stolen by one of the directors in a cameo appearance), the alternate-Evelyn is trained in martial arts and becomes a successful action star, reaching international fame in the film industry. The parallels between Evelyn in this particular world and Michelle Yeoh in real life are clear, but although screenwriters-directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert intended it as a cheeky postmodern nod, Yeoh insisted on keeping Evelyn’s character separate from herself. an actress.

“When Daniel started, they always wrote [her] her name is Michelle Wang “, Yeoh explains. “And I said no, from the first moment. They do not call her Michelle because […] Evelyn deserves to be told her own story. This is a very ordinary mother [and] housewife trying to be a good mother to her daughter, good daughter to her father, husband trying to keep family together […] “I do not like to be portrayed, Michelle Yeoh, in the characters I play, because everyone deserves their own journey and their stories to be told.”

Evelyn’s journey deals not only with the multiverse and the forces of nihilism, but also with her broken relationships and the constant battle of the “what-ifs” she feels inside. When a version of herself is presented with fame, fortune and fame, Evelyn is initially drawn to the success she could have had if she had just said no to Weymond all these years.

“She became a great movie actress, she became very glamorous,” says Yeoh. “But then he lost the things he loved. He has no family. “Worst of all, he has no daughter.”

The hot dog universe

Evelyn with hot dogs fingers

Picture: A24

“Honestly, the truth is that when I first read it, I said, Well, I have to find a way to tell these two guys that it’s coming out of the scriptYeoh laughs. In this universe, human evolution has taken a drastically different turn, for reasons also covered by a director. Everyone in this world has long, rubber hot dogs on their fingers. “[I had] I have no idea what they are talking about – mustard is overflowing [of] hot dog fingers in the mouth, such as No no no.

And these rubber hot dog accessories were not graphics with a green screen – they were very, very real. Yeoh says any use of CG in Everything Everywhere was intended to improve the material, not to create new elements. Hot dog fingers were made for actors.

“I had to put my hand in this candle tub, and I had kicks in my joints,” he says. “Because they sucked and did not come out. And I was thinking, No! I will have to walk for the rest of my life with this bathtub at the end of my hand!

Evelyn is sitting at a table with long hot dog fingers

Picture: A24

In the universe of hot dogs, Evelyn is romantically involved with Dirre (Jamie Lee Curtis), the IRS agent who investigates her in Evelyn’s original universe. The film shows snapshots of their intimate relationship, quite typical and normal scenes of a couple falling in love and falling in love, except for the hot dog fingers waving. In the hot dog universe, passion is expressed by people inserting these fingers into each other’s mouths in a kind of dance performance.

“When you do a dance like this, you need a fearless companion,” says Yeoh, referring to Curtis’ fearless approach to the stage. “You both have to look at each other and leave, Here are these hot dog hands! We literally improvised this dance between us “.

But even the best partner does not stifle the initial stress of performing a hot dog erotic dance.

“Before you do, you have so many strange thoughts,” says Yeoh. “How will it work? You know, it’s going to be so embarrassing. I’m not ashamed, as – I managed to keep it together for 30-something years in business. Will I lose it now? “

As absurd as the hot dog dance is, the moment Evelyn and Dirdr play it is almost bittersweet. It speaks to the power of these two actors, to be able to infuse gravitas into an act designed to be utterly ridiculous.

“You feel the love of these two,” says Yeoh. “It simply came to our notice then. You want it to happen. You want to see the evolution of this relationship. Because they go through pain and separation. And after they come together it is like separation sex “.

The great secret universe of Harry Sum Jr.

Evelyn on Chad's shoulders, wearing both chef uniforms

Picture: A24

This universe finds Evelyn working as a hibachi chef with Chad (Joyby Harry Sum Jr.). Evelyn’s boss tells her to speed up her pace, because her chef skills are relaxed and Chad steals the show. But chef Evelyn enters Chad in the kitchen and finds that under his hat, he is being controlled by a singing raccoon, in a Pixar parody. Ratatouille.

“[Harry Shum Jr.] “He’s so great with his body language, with this little raccoon,” says Yeoh. “He looked like a real raccoon. It scared me the first time I saw it and then when it did, Oh, this raccoon controls me, ahhh!, we had so much fun. Because he was a real kind of robot [animatronic] in his head, and he was pulling, and someone was checking his mouth. It seems so horribly true. It was scary. “

It’s also one of the film’s most hilarious and satisfying drawbacks, because earlier in the real world, Evelyn tries to explain the whole enigma of multiverse-hopping to her family by equating it with Ratatouille – only she confuses the rat with a raccoon and calls him “Racca-coony”. Acting next to an animatronic raccoon really tried Yeoh’s acting, but tells the scene where Evelyn explains his plot Racca-coony it was a particularly satisfying challenge for her.

“I do not make comedy! I do not do stand-up comedy. I’m not doing it! ” she laughs. “There is no selfishness in this room. Everyone is allowed to be completely stupid and eccentric. That was the beauty of it, being free from thought, Oh, that may seem strange. “It’s like, let it be weird and wonderful.”

Evelyn prepares to explain the raccoon joke

Picture: A24

The universe where there is no life

Of all the chaotic universes that exist All Everywhere SimultaneouslyYeoh is attracted to one thing in particular: the universe where life never unfolded, and Evelyn and her daughter are in the form of simple rocks looking out into a canyon.

“I love the rock universe,” says Yeoh. “And I want to believe it. Because I told Daniels, Do not make us shout at the rocks. It has to be quiet, right? You hear the wind and all that. And they were so smart when they put it [makes a TCK-TCK-TCK noise] when the words came out. I thought it was wonderful. “

Some of the film’s most tumultuous conversations take place between Evelyn and Joy’s rock versions, through text on screen as the air whistles around them. It is the perfect pause in the film, which marks the points with even greater accuracy and depth.

“The movie is fast and furious and chaotic,” says Yeoh. “It’s like pop art and pop music and it all happens at the same time. But it’s also a lot of people you [millennials] everyone is used to – with the internet, information overload. And suddenly from there, you jump into the rock universe, it’s like that Okay, we can all breathe together now. This immobility, I think, makes the chaos even more intense. Its beauty when you come out of the cinema and think, Look around us, it’s so chaotic all the time. So we have to be able to take a step back and say, How do we heal ourselves? How do we make this work? You have to think about it and you have to do it together. ”

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