"It’s like going to your roots and really knowing how it is back home"
Michelle Yeoh has discussed the strengths of Crazy Rich Asians.
Yeoh, who plays tiger mom Eleanor Young in the film, said she was “immediately drawn” to the role because she has “always been drawn to strong women characters.”
For the Malaysian star, Crazy Rich Asians offers a unique insight into Asian culture but at the same time, offers a feeling of familiarity.
“We are given this amazing opportunity to take you to the other side of the world, where even if you’re not American-born Chinese, it’s like going to your roots and really knowing how it is back home,” she said. “Because it is very, very different, whereby family values are much more important than personal ambitions and personal goals.”
The 56-year-old actress said displays of love and affection are different in Asian culture.
“It’s not shown by saying, ‘I love you’ — we don’t do that,” Yeoh said. “Growing up, you don’t have your mother and your dad going, ‘Oh, come here, let me kiss you and tell you how much I love you.’ They’ll say, ‘Oh, you’re looking a little bit tired,’ which means ‘I’m going to make you the best soup.’ But that was how they expressed love — through food. …
“That is the old traditional way of expression of love, so it was very important at this point to also show through Eleanor the old values and how they need to be protected.”
Crazy Rich Asians has undoubtedly been a success, becoming the top grossing comedy in 10 years. Reflecting on its success, Yeoh said the film is what audiences wanted to see.
“I think after a while, you forget that it’s an all-Asian cast [in ‘Crazy Rich Asians’], “she said. “And that’s what I would like to see – that it’s not an event where we have an all-Asian cast. It should be the norm.”
“We should be able to be getting more roles like this. I think it’s proven the fact that we have globally fantastic Asian-American, Asian-Australian, Asian-English — just Asian actors who are able to give you what you want when you go to the cinemas.
Yeoh went on to say that Asians need to be given proper and full stories to “break away the stereotype of what Asians should be.”
“Yes, we are nerdy, we are quirky — we have all those — but you have to give us a full story and not just a two-dimensional, stick someone in there and say, ‘Oh, we have an Asian, we have a very diverse cast.’” She added. “That’s not it. But I do hope is to see many, many more of these opportunities for Asian storytellers in front of and behind the camera, so I am very grateful to be part of something that’s bringing in so much love and fun.”