Michelle Yeoh Cast In Highly Anticipated Fantasy Film
Michelle Yeoh, star of this year’s breakout indie hit Everything Everywhere All At Once, has decided that in this reality, she will be playing a part in the upcoming Wicked films by John Chu. Variety reports that the actress has signed on to play Madame Morrible, Headmistress of Crage Hall at Shiz University. Based off of the immensely popular Broadway musical of the same name, Chu’s adaptation will be arriving as a pair of movies, on Christmas 2024 and 2025 respectively.
Wicked tells the story of Elphaba, who becomes the Wicked Witch of the West, played by Cynthia Ervo, and Glinda, the future Good witch played by Ariana Grande. Michelle Yeoh’s headmistress has the two girls, upon their arrival at Shiz University, assigned as roommates. The character is, as most authority figures in the land of Oz are, not quite what she seems to be.
The role of Madame Morrible was originally played on Broadway by the late Carole Shelly, with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Carol Kane taking over two years later. The two leads, Elphaba and Glinda, were famously originally played, respectively, by Pushing Daisies star Kristin Chenoweth and Frozen’s Idina Menzel. In joining the Wicked legacy, Michelle Yeoh finds herself in very good, multiple award winning company.
The decision to split the film into two was a difficult one to make for the studio, though the inclusion of Tony-winning song “Defying Gravity”, initial an obstacle, made it easy once the choice was made. According to Stephen Schwartz, one of the musical’s co-creators, “We found it very difficult to get past “Defying Gravity” without a break. That song is written specifically to bring a curtain down, and whatever scene to follow it without a break just seemed hugely anti-climactic.”
Filming of the movie adaptation was significantly delayed, due to both COVID, and Cats bombing at the box office, poisoning the well for movie musicals for a few years. It was not until February 2021 that John Chu, the man behind the best parts of the Step Up franchise and also the Michelle Yeoh film, Crazy Rich Asians, signed on to the project. Joining a major big-budget musical adaptation is just par for the course for the Asian actress that has had a long, storied career of memorable roles.
Michelle Yeoh made her English-language debut in 1997, stealing scenes opposite Pierce Brosnan in his second James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies. Since then, the actress has had a part in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Star Trek Discovery, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Memoirs of a Geisha, and even joined the MCU in Shang-Chi. Along the way, TIME’s Icon of the Year has acquired over 30 award nominations, including a pair of Best Actress awards for Everything Everywhere All At Once.
An award-winning cast and a successful director was not enough to save Cats from being one of the biggest flops of all time, but Broadway fans would argue that Wicked is already a better musical. Michelle Yeoh, in a significant role, is an incredible addition to the Wicked cast, though fans that can’t wait for Christmas 2024 can catch the actress voicing Airrazor in the upcoming Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.