‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’: Michelle Yeoh Used the ‘Chaos’ of Filming Multiple Universes to Find Her Character

Some parts are tailor-made for certain actors. The role of Evelyn in Everything Everywhere All at Once and Michelle Yeoh seem perfect for each other. The movie takes Yeoh’s character on a journey through multiple universes. Her character has several iterations across those universes, and the first trailer from 2021 promised a wild ride.

Evelyn was a challenging role for Yeoh, but she relished the challenge and channeled the ‘chaos’ on set into a solid performance in a movie that could be a huge hit.

Michelle Yeoh, who plays Evelyn in the movie 'Everything Everywhere All at Once,' attends the 2022 Producers Guild Awards.
Michelle Yeoh | Michael Tran/AFP via Getty Images

Yeoh emotionally describes her role as Evelyn in ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’

Yeoh started her acting career in 1984, but it wasn’t until 2021 that she found the role she’d been waiting for. 

The role of Evelyn in Everything Everywhere All at Once immediately spoke to her. Yeoh connected to the character, and she knew she was perfect for the part. Ever the actor, she tried 

to downplay her feelings about the part when she met with directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.

“When I met them, I didn’t tell them. When I read the script, I thought, ‘This is something,’” Yeoh emotionally recalled during an interview with GQ. “This is something I’ve been waiting for for a long time, that’s going to give me the opportunity to show my fans, my family, my audience what I’m capable of: To be funny, to be real, to be sad. Finally, somebody understood that I can do all these things.”

Evelyn is unlike any character Yeoh has played before, and the movie is one of the most unique in her filmography. To play a character whose existence is chaotic, Yeoh tapped into the chaos on set.

On-set ‘chaos’ helped Yeoh channel Evelyn

We see Evelyn as a movie star, a googly-eyed rock, a person with hot dog hands, and a hibachi chef in the trailer for Everything Everywhere All at Once. In short, she’s dozens of versions of herself, all of which required Yeoh to play variations of her character during filming. She played a slightly different person in changing scenarios on different sets each day. 

Playing Evelyn was chaotic. The atmosphere on set helped her get into character.

Every day when I go onto the set, sometimes I had no idea because we are jumping from one universe to another one,” Yeoh told GQ. 

“The chaos at the moment of filming is also what Evelyn was going through. Evelyn was confused; she was fractured. She was trying to come to terms with what was happening to her.

Michelle Yeoh

The Evelyns living elsewhere in the multiverse spun off from the one the audience follows. They took another path when she made important life choices that led to her current situation. Yeoh revealed she also relied on personal experience to find that element of her character.

“Maybe that is one thing I do put in, taking from my experiences, because it is very personal. Not every decision you make is going to be the perfect one,” Yeoh said. “And that’s when mistakes hopefully make you wiser and smarter and don’t do it again. And if you do it again, that means you’re really dumb.”

‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ has the potential to be a critical success

Everything Everywhere All at Once has funny moments. It has action sequences. You might even be able to describe it as sci-fi. At its heart, though, the movie is about life, love, family, and Evelyn discovering her purpose in all three.

The film tackles big themes, but they’re all wrapped up in the Daniels’ unique and distinctive wallpaper. 

Yeoh’s commitment to the role and the movie’s drama, humor, and action comes through on screen, as the Cheat Sheet review of Everything Everywhere All at Once notes. Meanwhile, Stephanie Hsu has a breakout role as Evelyn’s daughter, Joy, and Jamie Lee Curtis flashes her comedic chops in a supporting role as an IRS auditor.

It’s a one of a kind movie, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s the Daniels, who had a Sundance hit with Swiss Army Man

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