Michelle Yeoh Was Initially Very Upset About The Crazy Rich Asians Script

Michelle Yeoh in Crazy Rich Asians
(Image credit: (Warner Bros.))

For the cast of Crazy Rich Asians, having their hands on the script of the first major film with an all-Asian cast in some time is quite the opportunity. But before going forward, Michelle Yeoh, who plays Nick Young's mother Eleanor in the film, had a little bone to pick with director Jon M. Chu regarding the script. Here's why:

I was very upset. Eleanor was written as nasty, mean, mean, not nice at all. I don't think that Eleanor comes from that motivation. She comes from the love of her son and what it takes to be the wife and the strength that's necessary when you put the needs of your family before your own.

Michelle Yeoh was already a fan of Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians novels that the film is based off, but something wasn't right about Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim's original script. Instead of passing on the role or pushing on, Yeoh was vocal to Jon M. Chu about her feelings on how Eleanor's character in the movie. At The Contenders in London (via Deadline), Yeoh said Chu was fortunately "tremendously persuasive," and the actress explained that making Eleanor one-dimensional and just "mean" would be an injustice to mother's everywhere whose motivations often come from love.

Director Jon M. Chu listened to Michelle Yeoh, thinking back to his own traditional Taiwanese parents, and had the script changed for Eleanor's character. While the focus of Crazy Rich Asians was perhaps originally focused on the strength of Rachel Chu to believe in herself despite disapproval from Nick's mother, the movie now includes a complete and satisfying story-arc for Eleanor as well. The movie does a beautiful job of exploring both characters and without these adjustments suggested by Yeoh, mothers everywhere might have certainly felt misunderstood.

Crazy Rich Asians was a summer hit and the biggest romantic comedy in almost a decade. With it being a rarity to see an Asian ensemble cast on-screen, the making of the film was a collaborative process often attributed to director Jon M. Chu's passion for the project. For example, the director allowed time for the comedy actors to improvise and add in their own personality to the film, giving talents such as Ken Jeong and Awkwafina time to play around and make the movie genuinely funny. Chu also fought to keep the title how it was and convinced studio executives that there was an audience for Crazy Rich Asians.

After scoring $230 million worldwide thus far, Crazy Rich Asians will soon get a release in China on November 30 next to other big Hollywood movies. Two months into its opening, the title is still in theaters at many locations all over, including other foreign markets.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.