The cast of Everything Everywhere All at Once pulls no punches in EW's Around the Table chat
Action, comedy, sci-fi, martial arts, an alternate universe in which everyone has hot dogs for fingers: The just-released Everything Everywhere All at Once really does have almost everything. When co-writer-directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert spoke with the film's stars Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Lee Curtis, Stephanie Hsu, and Ke Huy Quan for one of EW's Around the Table chats, the conversation proved similarly all-encompassing.
Yeoh is a genuine cinematic legend whose many credits include Supercop, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Crazy Rich Asians, and last year's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. But the actress admitted to feeling concerned when she studied the script for Everything Everywhere All at Once, in which her Los Angeles laundromat-owner Evelyn Wang takes on an evil that threatens the entire multiverse.
"When I looked at my script, I had the biggest panic attack," said Yeoh. "I like to do my homework, because I feel that when you've done your homework, you can go in and be absolutely crazy, because then you are prepared for things that are being thrown your way. Every scene I'm in I will have a sticker, and then if it was an action scene, a very dramatic scene, it would have different color-coding, and then it was the different universes... I looked at it and it was literally tagged in all the different colors."
Ke Huy Quan, who as a child actor appeared in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Goonies, plays Evelyn's husband Waymond. The actor revealed why he had abandoned his acting career and was only inspired to return decades later after he saw the Yeoh-starring Crazy Rich Asians.
"As I got older there was not a lot of opportunities for an Asian actor at that time," he said. "So I decided to step away from acting, went to film school, and I was content for many years working behind the camera... Crazy Rich Asians came out and that movie just hit me on so many levels. I remember watching it three times in a theater, and I cried every single time, and I had serious FOMO when I saw the entire cast made up of Asian actors. I go: Wow, I wish I was up there with them."
Stephanie Hsu plays Evelyn's daughter Joy in the film and recalled how Yeoh hid her fears to become an entirely positive force during the shoot.
"It was so amazing to watch you completely surrender every single day," Hsu said to her costar. "Like show up, with infinite joy and then be like, 'Okay, boys, what do I have to do for you today?' But always with such absolute excellence."
The directors first met Hsu while working on an episode of the sitcom Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens. Scheinert remembered how the actress had, at the time, recently seen the filmmakers' video for DJ Snake and Lil Jon's track "Turn Down for What" in which Kwan portrays a character whose (clothed) nether regions start dancing along to the music.
"The day before we shot with you, you watched 'Turn Down for What' for the first time," said Scheinert. "And so then, on set, miked-up in front of the whole crew, she was like, 'Dan I can't stop thinking about your penis!' We were so embarrassed. It was the first day of shooting."
"No it wasn't, it was the second day, it was definitely the second day," Hsu corrected the filmmaker. "Also, I definitely didn't say it like, 'Hey, Dan, I can't stop thinking...' I was overwhelmed."
"We all were overwhelmed when we saw it," joked Jamie Lee Curtis.
Curtis plays a tax inspector named Deirdre Beaubeirdra whose office is one of the film's main settings. The famous but apparently thrifty Halloween star explained how she dressed her own production offices with furniture she came across during the shoot in Los Angeles.
"I was stealing chairs," said Curtis. "I didn't steal them, I paid for them, but we were in what was [the] Countrywide Savings and Loan building when it went under, which is now used for commercials and movies. You guys took it over for the entire movie, and so instead of trailers we had offices. The first day, I'm in this office, and I walk in, and I notice there's this really cool chair in front of the desk area in my office, and right away I flipped it over and it was a Pollock chair. Go on, eBay, write 'Pollock chair.' This building has now switched hands, what, four or five times since Countrywide went under and they don't have a clue what's in this building. There are thousands and thousands and thousands of Aeron chairs. I went to the guy and said, 'You know, I'm just outfitting my offices and I could use some chairs, do you think they'd sell them to me?' And he said, 'Well, I don't know, let me ask.' Two days later, he came back and he said, 'Well, yes, they would.' I said, 'Great.' I paid him cash for 12 of those chairs."
"This is how we fund our next movie!" said Kwan.
Everything Everywhere All at Once is screening in limited theaters and will be released wide April 8. Watch the full Everything Everywhere All at Once/Around the Table video above.