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Michelle Yeoh Rejected ‘Stereotypical’ Hollywood Roles For Years: ‘They Couldn’t Tell If I Spoke English’

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Michelle Yeoh is opening up about the discrimination she faced in Hollywood. While the actress was a bonified star in Asia thanks to Hong Kong action flicks like “Police Story 3: Super Cop” and “Supercop 2,” it was her role in the James Bond film “Tomorrow Never Dies” that brought her to Hollywood’s attention.

She played the iconic spy, Wai Lin, who broke every stereotype about Bond Girls with her martial arts and capabilities. READ MORE: How Michelle Yeoh Helped Ke Huy Quan Prep For ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once: ‘Couldn’t Have Done This Without Her’ “The first movie I did after I came to America was ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ with Pierce Brosnan,” she recalled to People magazine. “James Bond at that point had only been known as macho, and the girls were just the ones with cutesy names.” While she came to the West’s attention with the film, the roles that came her way afterwards were all for “stereotypical” roles. “At that point, people in the industry couldn’t really tell the difference between whether I was Chinese or Japanese or Korean or if I even spoke English,” Yeoh said. “They would talk very loudly and very slow [at me].

I didn’t work for almost two years, until ‘Crouching Tiger,’ simply because I could not agree with the stereotypical roles that were put forward to me.” READ MORE: Michelle Yeoh Reflects On ‘Wicked’ Casting As Madame Morrible: ‘This Is What We Call Diversity’ Now, nearly 25 years later, the 60-year-old actress is sweeping the awards with “Everything Everywhere All At Once” and a Best Actress Oscar nomination.

It was a role she had a large part in sculpting, down to the character’s name. “The only thing I said to them was, ‘The character cannot be called Michelle Wang,’” Yeoh told

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