Michelle Yeoh has had some frightening moments in her career.
The “Everything Everywhere All at Once” star is on the new cover of Town & Country, and in it, she talks about the stunt that almost made her stop acting for good.
The incident occurred while shooting the 1996 Hong Kong action movie “The Stunt Woman” when she fractured some vertebrae while performing a stunt in which she plummeted from a bridge.
“I thought I broke my back. I thought I was paralyzed,” she said, describing being put in a brace and having difficulty breathing.
Yeoh considered switching to a career with safer work, but continued on, appearing in the James Bond movie “Tomorrow Never Dies” in 1997 and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” in 2000.
Before that, Yeoh had already retired once from acting in 1987 after marrying wealthy Hong Kong businessman Dickson Poon. As it turns out, a conversation with Quentin Tarantino helped her make the decision to return to acting in “Supercop” with Jackie Chan.
“I must say, Quentin, he’s persistent. He is who he is today because he’s full of passion and love, so he wore me down,” she said, recalling their conversation in which he reminisced about her many amazing action sequences. “Suddenly we became animated. So then I thought, Maybe I’m not ready to give up on this.”
With Tarantino’s admiration for her, some have wondered why the director didn’t put her in his two-part martial arts epic “Kill Bill”.
“I asked Quentin the same question,” she reveals. “He’s very smart. He said, ‘Who would believe that Uma Thurman could kick your a**?’”
Yeoh also talks about her character Evelyn, in “Everything Everywhere”, who she insists is nothing at all like her in real life.
“God forbid I want to play someone like me! That’s so boring, she says. “This story is not about me. This story is about many people—mothers, aunties, women out there who walk by you in the supermarket unnoticed. They never have a voice. They’re never the superheroes.”
As for how she deals with success, Yeoh says, “My guiding light is you do it because you want to do it—with passion. Our life is a gift, and hopefully when it’s time to go I will say, ‘I lived it to the fullest.’”