Michelle Yeoh remembers the stunt from Supercop that almost killed her
Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh recently revealed that she once proved to Jackie Chan that women have a place in action films, and don’t just “belong in the kitchen”.
But rising to fame for her roles in Hong Kong action films while performing so many of her own stunts presented her with a fair share of heartstopping moments along the way.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly for her upcoming film Everything Everywhere All At Once, the 59-year-old recounted a risky stunt on the 1992 film Supercop that almost killed her.
Thankfully, fellow Hong Kong action star Chan saved her life.
She said: "In Asia at that time, we didn't really do rehearsals, we didn't have weeks of preparation. We learnt the stunt and we did it."
The stunt in question involved Yeoh rolling off a moving truck onto the hood of Chan's oncoming convertible, smashing into the windscreen to break her fall, then rolling onto the road when Chan brakes the car.
"You look at it and it's about a six-foot fall, it's not much, and you think, 'I could do this.' But once the two vehicles are moving you go, 'Oh, wow, this is a completely different experience. I'm not standing still, the car isn't, nothing is still.' I don't know whether it was crazy, a moment of insanity, [but] the thought that went through my head was, 'You're never going to know how it feels until you try it.'"
What went wrong, however, was that the windscreen didn't shatter – which caused her to slide off the car in the wrong direction.
She said: "I had nowhere to hold on to and I kept sliding off the car. And if you watch the outtakes, you can see Chan panic. He can see me going off and I'm floundering; he reaches over and he literally just grabs me — luckily, I think he saved my head — by my shirt."
Yeoh slid off the car and landed on the road ("fortunately, I didn't go head first," she said) but a stuntman who came to her aid didn't fare that well. He slipped off the car, suffered a bad concussion and was sent to the hospital.
Chan wanted to call off the shoot, she recalled.
"He was like, 'Okay, okay, that's it! Enough! We are finished for the day! We're not doing it anymore! This is stupid! This is ridiculous! We're not doing it!'"
Ever the daredevil, though, Yeoh wanted a second shot at the stunt.
"You know when you fall off a horse? You jump back on right away. If we had stopped the shoot, gone away and thought about it, I wouldn't have gone back up."
Looking back on her film career, and especially the stunts performed in Supercop, Yeoh said she has questioned herself: "What was I thinking? I was swinging at the side of trucks. I was riding a motorcycle onto a moving train. I was doing the most insane stunts."
Now, she's content to let the stunt professionals take over.
"I am not a stunt person, per se. I have to sometimes step back and say, 'Please let the professionals do their job.' I have to talk myself down," she said.