“Everything Everywhere All at Once” directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert spoke about how the movie changed when Michelle Yeoh was cast as the protagonist after Jackie Chan turned the role down.
When martial arts legend and actor Chan told the directors that he was unavailable for the role, the lead part was rewritten for Yeoh.
The filmmaking duo originally wanted Yeoh in a supporting role to Chan as his wife. However, the duo still saw potential to make the story work with only Yeoh, ultimately switching the character of Evelyn Wang from a supporting character into the lead. Actor Ke Huy Quan was cast in a supporting role as Wang’s husband, Waymond.
Kwan noted how everything worked out for the best.
“You never know with the alchemy of storytelling how things will fall,” Kwan told The Hollywood Reporter. “Swapping the characters made it more personal, which gave us a wealth of experience to imbue into the story. Suddenly it became a lot easier to write and imagine.”
Yeoh also reflected on what it was like to play the protagonist in a unique story.
“What I need is to be challenged, to have directors look at me in a different way,” Yeoh said. “Over the years, my [characters] have been strong, held together. So when I read the script, I was like, ‘Whoa, what?’”
The mind-bending action thriller ended up becoming A24’s highest-earning film at the box office, grossing over $100 million.