Michelle Yeoh

Michelle Yeoh
Michelle Yeoh

Michelle Yeoh at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival
Chinese name (Traditional)
Chinese name (Simplified)
Pinyin Yáng Zǐqióng (Mandarin)
Jyutping Joeng4 Zi2king4 (Cantonese)
Birth name Yeoh Choo-Kheng (Iûⁿ Chí-khēng)
Born 6 August 1963 (1963-08-06) (age 48)[1][2]
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Occupation Actress/Dancer
Years active 1984–present
Spouse(s) Dickson Poon (1988–1992)
Jean Todt

Michelle Yeoh Choo-Kheng (born 6 August 1963[1]) is a Hong Kong-based Malaysian Chinese actress, well known for performing her own stunts in the action films that brought her to fame in the early 1990s.

Born in Ipoh, Malaysia, she is based in Hong Kong and was chosen by People magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World in 1997.

She is best known in the Western world for her roles in the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, playing Wai Lin, and the multiple Academy Award-winning Chinese-language martial arts film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, for which she was nominated the BAFTA for "Best Actress". In 2008, the film critic website Rotten Tomatoes ranked her the greatest action heroine of all time.[3] In 2009, she was listed by People magazine – as the only Asian actress – as one of the "35 All-Time Screen Beauties".[4]

She is credited as Michelle Khan in some of her earlier films. This alias was chosen by the D&B studio who thought it might be more marketable to international and western audiences. Yeoh later preferred using her real name.[1]


Early life and career

Michelle Yeoh Choo Kheng was born to a prominent ethnic Chinese family in Ipoh, Malaysia, on 6 August 1963. Her parents are Janet Yeoh and Yeoh Kian Teik, a lawyer and MCA politician.[2] She was keen on dance from an early age, beginning ballet at the age of four. At the age of 15, she moved with her parents to England, where she was enrolled in a boarding school. Yeoh later studied at the Royal Academy of Dance in London, majoring in ballet. However, a spinal injury prevented her from becoming a professional ballet dancer, and she transferred her attention to choreography and other arts. She later received a B.A. degree in Creative Arts with a minor in Drama.

In 1983, at the age of 21, Yeoh won the Miss Malaysia beauty pageant.[1] She was also Malaysia's representative at the 1983 Miss World pageant in London. From there, she appeared in a television commercial with Jackie Chan which caught the attention of a fledgling Hong Kong film production company, D&B Films. Yeoh started her film career acting in action and martial arts films such as Yes, Madam in 1985, after which she did most of her own stunts.[5]

The D&B Group in Hong Kong was run by Dickson Poon. Yeoh married Poon in 1987 and retired from acting. After the couple divorced in 1992, Yeoh returned to acting.[1]

Wider fame

Yeoh's performance in Police Story 3: Super Cop sealed her comeback. She acted in The Heroic Trio in 1993, and the Yuen Woo-ping films Tai Chi Master and Wing Chun in 1994.

Yeoh learned English and Malay before Cantonese, and cannot read Chinese characters; consequently she learned the lines for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon phonetically.

She starred in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies as Wai Lin (1997). Natasha Henstridge was rumored to be cast in the lead Bond girl role but eventually Yeoh was confirmed.[6] Brosnan was impressed, describing her as a "wonderful actress" who was "serious and committed about her work".[7] He referred to her as a "female James Bond" in reference to her combat abilities. She wanted again to perform her own stunts but was prevented because director Roger Spottiswoode considered it too dangerous. Still she performed all of her fighting scenes.[8][9] Thereafter, she was offered the role of Seraph in the two sequels to The Matrix, but she could not accept due to a scheduling conflict (the Matrix writers then changed Seraph into a male character and cast Collin Chou in the role).[10] In 2002, she produced her first English film, The Touch through her own production company, Mythical Films.

In 2005, Yeoh starred as the graceful Mameha in the film adaptation of Memoirs of a Geisha, and she continued her English-language work in 2007 with Sunshine. In 2008, Michelle Yeoh also starred in fantasy action film The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor with Brendan Fraser and Jet Li.[11]

In 2010, she starred in Reign of Assassins.

In October 2011, she has been chosen by Guerlain to be its new skincare ambassador.[12] Yeoh will play a role in strengthening the French cosmetics company's relationship with Asia.[13]


On 22 June 2011, Yeoh was deported from Burma, allegedly over a new film The Lady, in which Yeoh portrays Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese Prodemocracy leader.[14]

Personal life

Yeoh was married to Hong Kong entrepreneur Dickson Poon, who owns businesses such as Harvey Nichols and Charles Jourdan.[15] She is a Buddhist.[16]

In March 2008, she visited Vietnam to film a documentary for the Asian Injury Prevention Foundation (AIPF).[citation needed] On 31 July 2008, she confirmed news that she was engaged to Jean Todt, a leading figure in motor racing, during an interview with Craig Ferguson on CBS's The Late Late Show.

Pierrefort 2009 : Jean Todt with Michelle Yeoh and Pierrefort's mayor in front of house number 15 in Jean Todt Street

Yeoh is also a patron of the Save China's Tigers project committed to protect the endangered South China Tiger.[17]

Awards, honours and styles

On 19 April 2001, Yeoh was awarded the Darjah Datuk Paduka Mahkota Perak (DPMP), which carries the title Dato' by Sultan Azlan Shah, the Sultan of Perak, her home state, in recognition of the fame she brought to the state.[18]

On 25 November 2002, she was honoured as The Outstanding Young Persons of the World (TOYP) (Cultural Achievement) by JCI (Junior Chamber International).[citation needed]

On 23 April 2007, French President Jacques Chirac awarded her Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur. The decoration was presented to her in a ceremony in Kuala Lumpur on 3 October 2007.[19]


BAFTA Film Award 2001 – Best Actress (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)


Year Title Role Notes
1984 The Owl vs Bombo Miss Yeung
1985 Yes, Madam Inspector Ng
1985 Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Stars Judo instructor
1986 In the Line of Duty Michelle Yip a.k.a. Wong ga jin si
1987 Dynamite Fighters Fok Ming-Ming
1987 Easy Money Michelle Yeung a.k.a. Tong tian da dao
1992 Police Story 3: Super Cop Inspector Jessica Yang
1993 The Heroic Trio Ching/Invisible Woman/Number 3
1993 Butterfly and Sword Lady Ko
1993 Executioners Ching/San/Carol
1993 Holy Weapon Ching Sze/To Col Ching
1993 Once a Cop Jessica Yang
1993 Tai Chi Master Siu Lin
1994 Shaolin Popey 2 - Messy Temple Ah King a.k.a. Shao Lin xiao zi II: Xin wu long yuan
1994 Wonder Seven Ying a.k.a. 7 jin gong
1994 Wing Chun Yim Wing Chun
1996 Ah Kam Ah Kam a.k.a A Jin de gu shi
1997 The Soong Sisters Soong Ai-ling/Madam Kung
1997 Tomorrow Never Dies Wai Lin
1999 Moonlight Express Sis a.k.a. Sing yuet tung wa
2000 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Yu Shu Lien
2002 The Touch Pak Yin Fay
2004 Silver Hawk Lulu Wong / The Silver Hawk
2005 Memoirs of a Geisha Mameha
2006 Fearless Ms. Yang (directors cut only)
2007 Sunshine Corazon
2007 Far North Saiva
2008 The Children of Huang Shi Mrs.Wang
2008 Babylon A.D. Sister Rebeka
2008 The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor Zi Yuan
2009 Turning Point Michelle Yeoh Make Roads Safe documentary
2009 Among the Great Apes with Michelle Yeoh (documentary) Michelle Yeoh National Geographic documentary
2010 True Legend Sister Yu
2010 Reign of Assassins Zeng Jing Chinese title Jianyu a.k.a. Jianyu Jianghu
2011 Kung Fu Panda 2 Soothsayer (voice)
2011 The Lady Aung San Suu Kyi


  1. ^ a b c d e Kee Hua Chee (19 January 2004). "Her own person". The Star. Malaysia. http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2004/1/10/features/7041578&sec=features. Retrieved 13 November 2011. Interview. 
  2. ^ a b "Michelle Yeoh Biography (1963-)". film reference. http://www.filmreference.com/film/49/Michelle-Yeoh.html. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  3. ^ "Total Recall: The 25 Best Action Heroines of All Time". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/wanted/news/1737200/13/total_recall_the_25_best_action_heroines_of_all_time. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  4. ^ "35 All-Time Screen Beauties: Michelle Yeoh". People magazine. 6 October 2009. ISSN 0093-7673. http://www.people.com/people/package/gallery/0,,20301963_20308766,00.html#20682740. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  5. ^ Tourtellotte, Bob (2 August 2008). "Michelle Yeoh brings kicks and poise to 'Mummy'". Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/08/02/us-yeoh-idUSN0240960320080802?sp=true. Retrieved 15 May 2011. "Yeoh said that as she grows older, she understands her body will not be able to do what it once did with kick boxing and stunts." 
  6. ^ Ferguson, Amy. "Back In Action". Tribute. http://www.tribute.ca/tribute/0901/cover_story.htm. Retrieved 5 January 2007. [dead link]
  7. ^ Cohen, David (11 February 1997). "Bond girl Yeoh gets licence to thrill 007". South China Morning Post. http://www.klast.net/bond/tndnews1.html#yeoh. Retrieved November 13 2011. Quoted at klast.net. 
  8. ^ "Bond Leading Lady Won't Do Stunts". Associated Press. 21 May 1997. http://www.klast.net/bond/tndnews1.html#nostunts. Retrieved November 13 2011. Quoted at klast.net. 
  9. ^ Chung, Winnie (30 May 1997). "Much More Than Just A Bond Girl". South China Morning Post. http://www.klast.net/bond/tndnews2.html#scmp. Retrieved November 13 2011. Quoted at klast.net. 
  10. ^ "Michelle Yeoh Biography". Scrup.au. http://www.scrup.com.au/MichelleYeoh.htm. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  11. ^ Chung, Philip W. (1 August 2008). "Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh: From ‘Tai Chi Master’ to ‘The Mummy’". AsianWeek. http://www.asianweek.com/2008/08/01/jet-li-and-michelle-yeoh-from-tai-chi-master-to-the-mummy/. Retrieved 4 August 2008. 
  12. ^ "Michelle Yeoh, The New Face of Guerlain". Butterboom. 24 October 2011. http://www.butterboom.com/2011/10/24/michelle-yeoh-is-the-new-face-of-guerlain/. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  13. ^ "Michelle Yeoh Named as Guerlain's New Celebrity Ambassador". Asia Pacific Arts. 13 October 2011. http://asiapacificarts.usc.edu/article@apa?michelle_yeoh_named_as_guerlains_new_celebrity_ambassador_17531.aspx. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  14. ^ "Myanmar Deports Michelle Yeoh Over Suu Kyi Movie". Yahoo News. Associated Press. 27 June 2011. http://news.yahoo.com/myanmar-deports-michelle-yeoh-suu-kyi-movie-152847194.html. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  15. ^ Swain, Jon (25 March 2007). "No business like Yeoh business". Timesonline (London). http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/article1548715.ece. Retrieved 8 April 2007. (subscription required). 
  16. ^ "Michelle Yeoh: I believe in afterlife". The Buddhist Channel. 29 July 2008. http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=9,6893,0,0,1,0. Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  17. ^ "Patrons and Supporters". Save China's Tigers. http://english.savechinastigers.org/node/139/. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  18. ^ "Just Call Me Datuk". Asiaweek 27 (17). 4 May 2001. ISSN 1012-6244. Archived from the original on 9 May 2001. http://web.archive.org/web/20010509015254/http://www.asiaweek.com/asiaweek/magazine/nations/0,8782,107705,00.html. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  19. ^ "Yeoh receives France's top honour". BBC News. 4 October 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7028276.stm. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 

External links

Preceded by
Izabella Scorupco
Bond girl
Succeeded by
Denise Richards

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Yeoh Choo Kheng — Michelle Yeoh Michelle Yeoh Michelle Yeoh au Festival de Cannes pour la présentation de son film Tigre et Dragon de Ang Lee en 2000 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Yeoh — is the transliteration of the Hokkien (Min Nan) surname which shares the same Chinese character as the Mandarin surname Yang. See the Yang entry for the history of the name. Famous people with the surname Yeoh include:* Michelle Yeoh * Francis… …   Wikipedia

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