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Quentin Tarantino Saved Michelle Yeoh from an Existential Crisis: ‘I Was Coming Back to Life’

Tarantino chased down a professionally adrift Yeoh in Hong Kong. "I've watched all of your movies," he said, while sitting at her feet.

Michelle Yeoh, Quentin Tarantino

Michelle Yeoh, Quentin Tarantino

Everett Collection

Once upon in a time in Hong Kong, Quentin Tarantino inspired Michelle Yeoh to keep working in Hollywood.

Yeoh, who currently stars in SXSW breakout hit “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that she almost broke her back while filming 1996’s “The Stunt Woman.” The on-set injury led the former ballerina to question her career path as a whole.

“‘You like to work, but this is insane,'” Yeoh recalled friends telling her at the time. “‘We feel so bad, but only you can help yourself.'”

Yeoh began asking, “Why am I doing this? Is it worth it? If I really got hurt, then what?”

Yet martial arts enthusiast Tarantino set out to meet Yeoh, along with Jackie Chan and Jet Li, while in Hong Kong. Yeoh agreed to meet with the “Kill Bill” director for five minutes; it was then that Tarantino sat at Yeoh’s feet and said, “I’ve watched all of your movies,” before describing his favorite action sequences frame for frame, per THR.

“The next thing I knew, we were talking and I was coming back to life,” Yeoh said. “I’ll never forget it. It was like, ‘I do love what I do.’ And that was a turning point where I felt, ‘I’ve paid my dues.’”

Yeoh went on to star in the James Bond film “Tomorrow Never Dies” in 1997, which solidified her as a true Hollywood star. For past Hong Kong projects, Yeoh said she had no script: “I just went there on the day, learned my action. You don’t think of it as, ‘Am I acting?’”

But “Tomorrow Never Dies,” co-starring Pierce Brosnan, was big-time. Yeoh remembered director Roger Spottiswoode advising her not to do her own stunts, saying “Yes, you have extra skill, which I hope we can incorporate in your work, but you should be confident that you are here as an actress.”

Yeoh continues her action stardom in the Daniels’ “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which opens in theaters March 25. Another recent interview with directors Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan revealed that Yeoh’s role was originally designed for Jackie Chan before the filmmakers changed course.

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