Everything Everywhere’s Michelle Yeoh Shares Her Honest Thoughts About Aging In Hollywood, Was Told ‘You Should Retire'

Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All at Once
(Image credit: A24)

To say that Everything Everywhere All At Once was one of the most important movies of 2022 might still be selling the film short (and if you haven't had a chance to watch Everything Everywhere All At Once yet you're missing out). It was a critical darling and box office hit, to be sure, but beyond that, the movie gave the focus to actors that don’t normally get the chance to star in big genre stories. It was a big step forward for Michelle Yeoh not only as an Asian actress but as one that’s old enough that many in Hollywood felt she should retire.

Hollywood is seen as a place for the young. It’s a commonly heard refrain. It’s certainly true that most major Hollywood movies tend to star younger actors. Women especially seem to get pushed to the sidelines once they reach a certain age, no longer being offered the choice roles they once saw when they were younger. And yet, Michelle Yeoh is now an Oscar-nominated actress in a science fiction action movie. It’s something that would not have happened if she had done what some had suggested. She tells Variety that there were calls for her to retire, but she refused to let others decide what she should do with her career. Yeoh explained…

You know, as you get older, people start saying, ‘Oh yeah, you should retire. You should do this. You should…’ No, guys. Do not tell me what to do. I should be in control of what I am capable of, right?

Michelle Yeoh is just one of many actors who have lamented the way that Hollywood treats them differently as they get older. While the negative side of that tends to impact women more than men, everybody seems to feel the effects of a pervasive belief that once you hit a certain age, the same roles just aren’t offered to you anymore. 

This is why Michelle Yeoh says getting offered Everything Everywhere All At Once was emotional. For her, it meant a great deal to simply be offered the chance to play a role like that and to prove that she really could still do it. Yeoh continued…

You know, as you get older, the roles get smaller. It seems like the numbers go up and these things go narrow and then you start getting relegated to the side more and more. So when ‘Everything Everywhere’ came… it was very emotional because this means that you are the one who’s leading this whole process, who’s telling the story.

And she certainly did lead the process. Next month when the 95th Academy Awards are handed out Michelle Yeoh will compete for Best Actress and Everything Everywhere has a shot at being named Best Picture. Simply being at the Oscars will likely be emotional for all involved. Maybe it will be enough to remind Hollywood that great actors don’t have expiration dates.  

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.