Michelle Yeoh couldn’t hold in her elation while celebrating Crazy Rich Asians‘ monumental Golden Globe nominations on Thursday morning.
Calling from her hotel room in Toronto, Canada, where she’s busy filming the second season of CBS All Access’ Star Trek: Discovery, Yeoh was emotional over the film’s two nominations, for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical and Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical for Constance Wu.
“Oh my god, what a great way to start the day, aye? I think this is the first time an all-Asian cast movie has been nominated for Best Picture at the Golden Globes,” Yeoh told ET excitedly over the phone minutes before heading to set. “So, thank you and we’re so proud to be part of history. And congratulations to Constance for getting a nomination, as well! I don’t know what, but we’re whipping out the champagne and celebrating.”
The 56-year-old TV and film legend expressed happiness that the movie, which earned over $173 million at the U.S. box office with a sequel currently in the works, was receiving acclaim from the Golden Globes — her only regret that it took so long. “You do feel it’s important to be recognized and to be told, you know, ‘We love what you do.’ And sometimes this is the best way to show it,” she said.
During a 15-minute chat with ET, Yeoh opened up about the significance behind Crazy Rich Asians‘ Golden Globe love, Wu’s history-making nomination, Oscar chances, updates on the anticipated sequel and what’s next.
ET: Did you see a Golden Globe nomination in the cards? Did you imagine that was a possibility, or were you hoping it was?
Michelle Yeoh: I was hoping and wishing and praying, yes! Because it makes such an impact. It validates our work. It validates who we are as actors and directors and people who are involved in the movie. And then to be nominated, this is a nod for the entire cast and crew, everyone who participated in the movie. It’s a labor of love, and we always wish the very best for it from the box office and, if possible — if possible — nominations. And it’s taken us so long to get here, so yes, I’m dancing for joy. It’s so great! It’s so important. It’s so, so important to be celebrated like this.
I think what it is, is a great movie with heart. It came across, at first, as an all-Asian cast, but I think by now it’s so obvious, it’s colorblind. It goes through all the different generations [and] it’s just embraced and loved by people, and that is what we are celebrating as well. But, to be nominated, I feel like we’re winners already. So, thank you! Thank you!
I’ve seen the movie four times, so I am with you. It seems like everybody else is recognizing it and giving it its due.
Yes! It’s very important. Maybe I’m a people pleaser, but you do feel it’s important to be recognized and to be told, you know, “We love what you do.” And sometimes this is the best way to show it. I’m happy!
How did you react when you first found out that the film was nominated, that Constance was nominated? Did you get emotional? It sounds like you are emotional over this.
(Laughs.) I am, because you’re part of history in the making. It is very significant. I wish it didn’t take so long. I wish it happened and I hope that this is just — not just the beginning. It’s a new renaissance, you know? Opening up the field for more Asian and Asian American talent to be part of the normality. Let this be the last time we are celebrating it like an event. Let’s open the doors and embrace us and make us part of the normality. And we deserve to be! So, yes, I got very emotional. I’m a little sentimental, but I think it’s OK! (Laughs.)
We have to talk about Constance. I’m so happy that she was singled out as well. Her nomination is significant, she’s the first Asian woman in this category in more than 40 years, which is crazy.
She’s so brilliant at what she does. I mean, look, if it wasn’t for her, for Awkwafina, for everyone who participated. It truly is an amazing ensemble cast, but she outshone everyone. She was simply beautiful in that role. I always say, you’re as good as your sparring partner. Eleanor would not have been so powerful if it wasn’t for Rachel, and I think Constance played her to the T. The sexy, the funny, the smart, and she represented the all-American girl really, really well. She deserves the nomination! We are all so proud. We need more and more of this. Single everyone out!
Have you had a chance to talk to Constance this morning?
No, not yet. We haven’t been able to find her yet, but we have a group chat that we’re all participating [in], so you can see all the pouring out of congratulations, the love and all that, and everyone posting all their things already. So, we all know what’s happening and I’m sure she’ll hear from us one by one. She must be overwhelmed as well right now and she deserves to be! Enjoy the moment, girl.
Does this get you more excited about the possibility of Crazy Rich Asians continuing on to the Oscars, perhaps for Best Picture?
Every part of it came together, from the set design to the costumes. Everything was [as] important as the other one, not just the cast, the script, the direction. Everything. That is a really important nod. Just because it’s a romantic comedy, it can still be taken seriously as a Best Picture. Let’s pray and hope that we continue this amazing validation. It’s very important, not just for our movie but for everyone and for the Asian American society in our business. It’s very, very important to be part of this significant movement. We have been so quiet for so, so, so many years, I think that we have been given such a great opportunity to stand up and be really, really proud of what we have done, we are doing and we will continue to do. But just, please! Embrace us! And I think it shows, that’s what’s happening with all this.
What’s the status on the sequel? Last we heard, it was in development.
Last we heard, they are writing it. They are definitely writing it. Kevin [Kwan], the adorable, wonderful, amazing Kevin, wrote a trilogy, and Warner Bros., thank you, for believing in us. For believing that this would work and giving us the opportunity to prove that it works. They have been so great with the publicity, making sure people come out and watch it. They’ve done an amazing job. And yes, with the success on their hands, it would be crazy — not just crazy rich, but crazy! — not to do the sequel, right? So, we’re going to camp outside their doors to make sure that it’s well and truly going to happen.
After I watched the movie, I always said, “I want the sequel. I know they haven’t filmed it, but I want to watch it right now.”
It’s amazing how many times people have come up to me and say, “Oh, I’ve watched this movie seven times,” or five times or you know. It’s one of those movies you keep wanting to watch because you discover something new and it makes you feel so good and believe in love and joy and happiness ever after and empowering women. It hits all the right notes.
Do you know how close the sequel will stay to the second book, China Rich Girlfriend?
No, we don’t know. They have the two books that they are looking at [China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems], and I think the good thing is the characters are so well-loved and also there are so many characters and so many other, different stories to tell and also at different locations. That’s something that we’re really looking forward to because it’s not just in Malaysia and Singapore. You saw in the first one, it could be in Thailand, Hong Kong, China, so there are all the different Asian cities in Asia.
What are you working on right now? Are you filming Last Christmas?
Oh, yes! Right now, I’m filming in Toronto. I’m on the set of Star Trek: Discovery season two. Live long and prosper! It’s fun, we’re filming here and then, yes, I will go on to Last Christmas, directed by Paul Feig, and I will be with my gorgeous son, Henry Golding, all over again! (Laughs.) We all met here in Toronto when they were filming A Simple Favor, and I adore Paul Feig, so when he came to me and he said, “Emma Thompson wrote a most brilliant script, I’d love for you to be in it.” And Emma Thompson is like one of my all-time favorite actresses and writers and producers, so how do you say no to something like this?
The 76th annual Golden Globe Awards, hosted by Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg, will air live coast-to-coast on Sunday, Jan. 6, at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on NBC.