Michelle Yeoh Was Supposed To Be In Kill Bill?

Michelle Yeoh wanted to be in Kill Bill before Quentin Tarantino shut that idea down.

By Michileen Martin | Published

michelle yeoh

Quentin Tarantino isn’t shy about his adoration of the work of Michelle Yeoh, who came up in Hong Kong action films in the eighties and nineties. Long before most audiences in North America had any clue who Yeoh was, the Pulp Fiction director was a complete Yeoh-stan; so much so that his passion for her career helped convince her not to retire. So why–with Tarantino’s tenth and supposedly final film somewhere in the not-too-distant future–has the Oscar-winning filmmaker never recruited Yeoh for one of his projects? In particular, fans might understandably wonder why she didn’t show up in Tarantino’s two-part martial arts epic Kill Bill. In a new interview, Yeoh says she has an answer.

Speaking to Town & Country about her recent successes, Yeoh was asked why she wasn’t cast in Kill Bill. “I asked Quentin the same question,” Yeoh said. “He’s very smart. He said, ‘Who would believe that Uma Thurman could kick your ass?’” One might assume Tarantino was blowing the proverbial smoke, but it’s not exactly something he’s known for.

Of course, Michelle Yeoh may yet have a chance to show up in the Kill Bill saga. Tarantino has been asked on a number of occasions about making Kill Bill: Vol. 3, and it doesn’t seem to be an idea he hates. While Uma Thurman has cast doubts on the possibility, Hollywood seems to be a place where the adage “never say never” applies more than anywhere else.

Regardless of whether or not Michelle Yeoh winds up in whatever Tarantino’s final movie proves to be, she’s been open about the debt she owes to the filmmaker. She’s spoken a number of times–including getting emotional while telling Town & Country the tale–about how it was the Reservoir Dogs writer/director who convinced her not to leave acting behind. Yeoh was recovering from a bad back injury on the set of The Stunt Woman and was contemplating retiring when Tarantino asked to visit her. The director presumably had no idea about her thoughts on retirement, but Yeoh said the passion with which Tarantino spoke of her films was what inspired her to keep going. The following year she landed her first English-speaking film role and became a Bond girl at the same time with 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies. Three years later, she got more North American exposure than ever in Ang Lee’s Oscar magnet Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

michelle yeoh
Pierce Brosnan and Michelle Yeoh in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Michelle Yeoh’s rise doesn’t seem to be slowing any time soon; quite the contrary. She landed the unforgettable twin role of Captain Philippa Georgiou and her evil alternate on Star Trek: Discovery, and will hopefully in the near future reprise the role for a series based on the franchise’s clandestine group Section 31. She became part of the MCU last year in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and she blew critics’ minds in this year’s mind-bending sci-fi dramedy Everything Everywhere All at Once. Also this year she’ll lead the spinoff series The Witcher: Blood Origin on Netflix, and appear in the long-awaited sequel Avatar: The Way of Water.