Why Michelle Yeoh’s Evelyn wasn’t “overtly homophobic” in ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’
(Credit: Netflix)


Why Michelle Yeoh's Evelyn wasn't “overtly homophobic” in 'Everything Everywhere All At Once'

The critically acclaimed Everything Everywhere All At Once (EEAAO) is set to arrive on Netflix US on February 23rd, 2024, along with its emotional rollercoaster. This is a modern-day cinematic masterpiece directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, AKA the Daniels.

Starring Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn, the film delves into themes of identity, family dynamics, and the interconnectedness of the multiverse with a distinctly Asian lens. Yeoh’s portrayal of Evelyn is nothing short of extraordinary, as she plays an immigrant mother struggling to understand and accept her daughter, Joy (played by Stephanie Hsu), for who she is.

At its core, EEAAO follows Joy’s journey, a young woman grappling with her sense of purpose and existence. There’s a heartwrenching misunderstanding between Joy and Evelyn, as old as time and generational trauma, exacerbated by Joy’s nihilistic alter ego, Jobu Tupaki, who seeks to obliterate the multiverse with a cosmic everything bagel

Throughout the film, we see Evelyn making efforts to reconcile with Joy, with enormous help from Ke Huy Quan’s Waymond, kindness and the overall silliness of googly eyes. While Evelyn is stunted emotionally by her circumstances, in an earlier draft of the script, she was more “overtly homophobic.” However, the Daniels felt this portrayal lacked authenticity and depth. 

In a discussion with the LA Times, Kwan explained how seeing his own mother’s evolution and acceptance of his unusual career choices affected Evelyn’s character arc. “This is in some ways my way of saying thank you to my mom for constantly allowing space for the unexpected parts of us to exist in her worldview,” explained the actor.

Speaking of how Evelyn was more close-minded and “overtly homophobic” in earlier drafts, they mentioned having a change of heart about her characterisation along the way. “Our parents try to be accepting. It’s just that they struggle to communicate with us,” Scheinert continued, “And when we went back into the script with that perspective, it became a way more nuanced and interesting character.”

Throughout the film, Evelyn’s growth is evident as she learns to embrace the multitudes within her daughter, including her queer identity. This journey of acceptance is dealt with plenty of tenderness in the film. And Yeoh’s portrayal of Evelyn makes it all the more heartfelt.

You can watch Everything Everywhere All at Once on Netflix as it starts streaming at the end of February.