In her decades long acting career, Michelle Yeoh has been no stranger to playing formidable female roles. So it came as no surprise when she was announced to play the role of the imperious Eleanor Young in the eponymous movie adaptation of Kevin Kwan‘s hit novel, Crazy Rich Asians. If you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, rest assured: Yeoh is a tour de force as the imposing matriarch of the Young family, and plays it to hilarious perfection. Speaking to CNN’s Kristie Lu Stout this morning from Toronto, Yeoh talked about the cultural significance of Crazy Rich Asians, its box office success and the criticism it has faced.
On whether she was surprised by the film’s commercial success… I am overwhelmed, I’m empowered, I feel very emotional. Nobody really knew how successful [the film would be] until Monday when we got the box office results, and at that moment we realised… There seemed to be so much riding on it, our shoulders didn’t seem broad enough to carry all that weight just with one movie. It just shows that the audiences, this is what they’ve been waiting for.
On whether the movie is a landmark moment for Asian diversity in cinema… I’ve been in the industry long enough to have seen how many of us have tried to push forward, to say we are equal to any of the Caucasian fabulous lead stars that there are around. We should be given equal opportunities to be able to tell our stories and it’s been a great battle… I think the last time I felt such love was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
On criticism that Crazy Rich Asians is not “Asian enough”… It’s very interesting, I guess someone always has to make some kind of comment. What is Asian? And what’s Asian enough? Crazy Rich Asians is just an appetiser to a glorious feast that’s ahead of us… At the end of the day, it should transcend whether its Asian or Caucasian. Let’s just tell beautiful stories.
Watch her full interview with CNN below: