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Michelle Yeoh says starring in a James Bond film put her out of work for two years

Michelle Yeoh says starring in a James Bond film put her out of work for two years

Michelle Yeoh won widespread acclaim for the role, but disappeared from screens for two years afterwards

Everything Everywhere All At Once star Michelle Yeoh may have bagged her first ever Oscar nomination, but her career so far has been far from an easy ride.

After starring opposite Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond in 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies, Yeoh has admitted she was out of work for two years.

Yeoh, who hails from Malaysia and has more than 50 acting credits to her name, started out in martial arts and action movies such as Tai Chi Master, Supercop and Yes, Madam!

Tomorrow Never Dies was her first film role after moving to America, and while her role as Chinese spy Wai Lin received widespread acclaim for busting ‘Bond girl’ stereotypes, she didn’t appear on the big screen again until 2000’s Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

In a new interview with People, Yeoh said: “The first movie I did after I came to America was Tomorrow Never Dies with Pierce Brosnan.

Michelle Yeoh starred alongside Pierce Brosnan in Tomorrow Never Dies.
Collection Christophel / Alamy Stock Photo

“James Bond at that point had only been known as macho, and the girls were just the ones with cutesy names.”

While previous Bond girls quickly fell prey to 007’s charms and tended to get unceremoniously killed off, Wai Lin was a high-ranking soldier who was Bond’s equal in a fight.

She also told Brosnan’s secret agent not to ‘get any ideas’ when he tries to seduce her.

You might have thought the role would instantly catapult Yeoh’s career to new heights, but it turns out that wasn’t the case.

She said: “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.

“They would talk very loudly and very slow.

Michelle Yeoh won the gong for Female Actor in a Leading Role at the SAG Awards.
REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

“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.”

After overcoming prejudice earlier in her career, Yeoh is one of the frontrunners to win the award for Best Actress at the Oscars.

Though most bookies have Cate Blanchett as the favourite to win the award for her turn as sociopathic conductor Lydia Tár, Yeoh is hot on her heels.

It certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see her walk away with the statuette on March 12.

Speaking to People about her nomination, Yeoh said: “You go from shock to bewilderment. 'Wow, is it me? How can it be me?'

“Because I've worked with so many amazing actresses who should have had this privilege, and so I am very grateful to be given the opportunity to sit at the table and to be seen.”

Featured Image Credit: AFF/Alamy Stock Photo/United International Pictures

Topics: Film and TV, James Bond