She’s a darling of action cinema, who fought her way to international fame with feisty roles in a reel of action flicks in the 1980s and 1990s. But, beating down on-screen goons was not what the Hong Kong-based Malaysian Chinese actor, Michelle Yeoh, dreamt of as a child.
“I guess I was in the right place at the right time. You know, in Tomorrow Never Dies, the producers and the director, Roger Spottiswoode, decided they want almost like an equal to James Bond… it was very exciting for me,” the actor told in a recent interview on CNN's Talk Asia.
And her latest film, The Lady, in which she portrays the Burmese Nobel Peace Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, has seen her take up a fight of a different kind.
“When you come upon a role like this - it was impossible to turn away from it,” she said, adding, “It wasn't just about Aung San Suu Kyi and what she stood for — it was an incredible love story about a couple whose love enabled each other to be bigger than who they were.”
Yeoh lived and breathed the part for four years even learning Burmese to get into the character’s shoes. “It’s a movie that has enlightened me as a person and made me aware of what we all can do for the people around us,” said Yeoh, who went to Myanmar earlier this year but was deported. “I was so disappointed... They wouldn’t give me any reasons until a few days later, when they announced that I was blacklisted,” she says.
Real name: Yeoh Chu-Kheng
Debut: The Owl vs Bombo (1984)
Known for: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Tomorrow Never Dies
Upcoming: Cooktales, The Lady