Multiverse flick Everything Everywhere All At Once stars Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn – a downtrodden laundromat owner who’s enlisted to save reality itself. But she wasn’t the first choice for the role.
During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, directors Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan explained that the leading role was originally written for martial arts star Jackie Chan.
“At first we were like, ‘Action movie, going to star a dude’,” said Scheinert.
“We were having trouble figuring out the casting for the father figure,” added Kwan. “And one of us started wondering what happens if we take Michelle’s character and flop it and she becomes the protagonist. And the film just opened up in a completely different way. “
Michelle Yeoh was originally cast as the main character’s wife… but the filmmakers instead decided to make her the protagonist.
“We have these very strong moms and grandmoms, and we’re also both kind of dopey, gentle guys ourselves,” said Scheinert. “As soon as we switched it, we were like, ‘Oh, now the husband and wife characters are more relatable. Why on earth didn’t we write it this way from the get-go? ‘”
Of course, it’s easy to see how Chan would have brought his signature charm to the role as the everyman tasked with saving the multiverse.
But with the roles now switched, it was time to rethink who would play the husband, who the directors also felt would be appropriate for a Jackie Chan-type actor. In a separate interview with Vulture, Kwan revealed how he eventually decided to recast the role.
“The hardest thing about finding this role was that it required a lot of different skill sets,” said Kwan. “He had to be able to speak Cantonese, Mandarin, English. He had to know martial arts. But he also had to be an incredibly believable sappy pushover. One day, on Twitter, I saw a picture of Ke Quan as Short Round. My brain was like, ‘What is that guy doing right now?’ “
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