Michelle Yeoh Reveals The Role She Will Never Play

In a roundtable with other actresses, Michelle Yeoh says she doesn't want to play grandmothers yet.

By Michileen Martin | Published

michelle yeoh

Michelle Yeoh doesn’t want to play your grandmother. The Everything Everywhere All at Once star was part of The Hollywood Reporter‘s annual actress roundtable when she talked about turning down roles for grandmothers because she doesn’t want to be placed “in that box already.” You can see the actress talking about the experience below.

“But then you can see the roles are getting from mother to auntie,” Michelle Yeoh said. “And then when I received the script and say ‘please play the grandmother,’ you’re like, ‘No. Walking away.'”

It’s understandable that Michelle Yeoh doesn’t feel ready for big screen grandmotherhood just yet. Having turned 60 this year, she isn’t too young for such a part, but regardless of her age the actress still counts action as a big part of her profile. While this year’s Oscar favorite Everything Everywhere All at Once wasn’t promoted as an action flick, for example, the star’s martial arts know-how was still employed in the film.

Last year, Michelle Yeoh became a butt-kicking part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The year before that she starred in the shoot-em-up time loop flick Boss Level, and from 2017 to 2020 she appeared on Star Trek: Discovery. Starting on Christmas Day, she’ll be playing a sword-wielding Elf warrior in the Netflix spin-off miniseries The Witcher: Blood Origin.

Her near future doesn’t seem to be leaving the action behind. Michelle Yeoh is set to star in the final 3 Avatar films (excluding Avatar: The Way of Water) and Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.

the witcher blood origin
Michelle Yeoh in The Witcher: Blood Origin

And why should she be relegated to the roles of grandmothers? Not that there’s anything wrong with grandmothers, obviously, but if Harrison Ford can play Indiana Jones one more time at the doorstep of his eighties then why can’t Michelle Yeoh continue kicking the tar out of bad guys for that long or longer? After all, unlike Ford, Yeoh started out in action films like Supercop and The Stunt Woman.

Ironically, the first time many western audiences saw Michelle Yeoh was in the 2000 Oscar darling Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon when she plays the elder warrior Yu Shu Lien who feels pushed aside by the younger Jen (Ziyi Zhang). Over the past couple of decades her profile has continued to grow among western audiences with projects like Memoirs of a Geisha, The Mummy: Tomb of a Dragon Emperor, Marco Polo, and Crazy Rich Asians. The release of Everything Everywhere All at Once seems to have catapulted her to a new superstar status she more than deserves.

Sadly, while it may seem too soon to say, one passionate group of fans who may have said goodbye to Michelle Yeoh for good are those who follow Star Trek. Her character, Emperor Philippa Georgiou left the crew in Star Trek: Discovery behind during the show’s third season, with the promise of a new series on the horizon that would revolve around Section 31. But as the months tick by and Yeoh accepts more and more high profile roles — her most recent being Madame Morrible in the upcoming Wicked adaptation — the notion that she’ll have time on her schedule to fit in a Trek series seems less and less likely.