Quentin Tarantino is a big admirer of Michelle Yeoh, and one of her movies was a big influence on Kill Bill. So why wasn't she in the two-part action epic starring Uma Thurman? In a new interview with Town & Country Magazine, the Everything Everywhere All At Once star shared a very frank reason.
"I asked Quentin the same question," Yeoh said when she was asked about not being in Kill Bill. "He's very smart. He said, 'Who would believe that Uma Thurman could kick your a—?'"
Yeoh, 60, started her film career in action and martial arts films in the early 1980s. Jackie Chan's Police Story 3 (1992), better known as Supercop in the U.S., was the movie that "motivated" Thurman during the filming of Kill Bill, Tarantino told Town & Country. He recalled getting his hands on a copy of Yes, Madam, the 1985 Hong Kong hit that turned Yeoh into a star, and immediately being impressed.
"She parts her hands just before she breaks through the glass so you can see that it's her," Tarantino said of Yeoh. "I was just a huge, huge fan of hers. There was always a twinkle in her eye."
Tarantino eventually met Yeoh for the first time in 1995 when he visited Hong Kong to screen Pulp Fiction. The meeting took place after Yeoh fractured some vertebrae during a stunt accident while filming The Stunt Woman. She was ready to retire from acting, but Tarantino advised her not to.
"I must say, Quentin, he's persistent," Yeoh told Town & Country. "He is who he is today because he's full of passion and love, so he wore me down." During a five-minute discussion, Tarantino told Yeoh all about her own stuntwork. "Suddenly we became animated," she recalled. "So then I thought, Maybe I'm not ready to give up on this."
The result of that discussion was Yeoh's decision to take her first major English-language role in the 1997 James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies. Three years later, she cemented her international stardom with Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. She also scored more Hollywood roles, starring in Memoirs of a Geisha and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.
Yeoh is in the midst of another burst in popularity, thanks to Crazy Rich Asians, Last Christmas, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Her performance in Everything Everywhere All at Once has been praised as one of her best. She also stars in the upcoming Disney+ series American Born Chinese.