Michelle Yeoh

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Michelle Yeoh
Michelle Yeoh Cannes 2.jpg
Chinese name楊紫瓊 (traditional)
Chinese name杨紫琼 (simplified)
PinyinYáng Zǐqióng (Mandarin)
JyutpingJoeng4 Zi2-king4 (Cantonese)
Birth nameYeoh Choo-Kheng
(Iûⁿ Chí-khēng)
AncestryFujian, China

(1963 -08-06) 6 August 1963

(age 50)[1][2]
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Years active1984–present
Spouse(s)Dickson Poon (1988–1992)
Partner(s)Jean Todt
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Michelle Yeoh
Michelle Yeoh Cannes 2.jpg
Chinese name楊紫瓊 (traditional)
Chinese name杨紫琼 (simplified)
PinyinYáng Zǐqióng (Mandarin)
JyutpingJoeng4 Zi2-king4 (Cantonese)
Birth nameYeoh Choo-Kheng
(Iûⁿ Chí-khēng)
AncestryFujian, China

(1963 -08-06) 6 August 1963

(age 50)[1][2]
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Years active1984–present
Spouse(s)Dickson Poon (1988–1992)
Partner(s)Jean Todt
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Yeoh.

Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh Choo-Kheng (born 6 August 1963),[3] is a Malaysian actress, best known for performing her own stunts in the Hong Kong action films that brought her to fame in the early 1990s. Born in Ipoh, Malaysia, she was chosen by People 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 Award for Best Actress in 2000. In 2008, the film critic website Rotten Tomatoes ranked her the greatest action heroine of all time.[4] In 2009, she was listed by People magazine – as the only Asian actress – as one of the "35 All-Time Screen Beauties".[5]

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[edit]

Yeoh was born to a Malaysian Chinese family in Ipoh, Malaysia. Her parents are Janet Yeoh and Yeoh Kian Geik, a lawyer and MCA politician.[2] She is a Hokkien.[6] 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 20, Yeoh won the Miss Malaysia beauty pageant.[1] She represented Malaysia at the Queen of the Pacific 1983 beauty pageant which was held in Australia and won the crown. 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.[7] 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[edit]

Yeoh's performance in Police Story 3: Super Cop made 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. 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 rumoured to be cast in the lead Bond girl role but eventually Yeoh was confirmed.[8] Brosnan was impressed, describing her as a "wonderful actress" who was "serious and committed about her work".[9] 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 own fighting scenes.[10][11] 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).[12] 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.[13]

In 2010, she starred in Reign of Assassins. In October 2011, she was chosen by Guerlain to be its skincare ambassador.[14] Yeoh will play a role in strengthening the French cosmetics company's relationship with Asia.[15] Apart from action films, she is famous for playing nationalists in two biopics. In 1997, she played Soong Ai-ling in the award winning The Soong Sisters. In 2011, she portrayed Aung San Suu Kyi in Luc Besson's The Lady.

Deportation from Burma[edit]

On 22 June 2011, Yeoh was deported from Burma, allegedly over a new film The Lady, in which Yeoh portrays Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.[16]

Personal life[edit]

Yeoh was married to Hong Kong entrepreneur Dickson Poon, who owns businesses such as Harvey Nichols and Charles Jourdan.[17] She is a Buddhist.[18][19]

In March 2008, she visited Vietnam to film a documentary for the Asian Injury Prevention Foundation (AIPF).[20] 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. Yeoh is also a patron of the Save China's Tigers project committed to protect the endangered South China Tiger.[21]

Awards, honours & styles[edit]

Michelle Yeoh on the "Avenue of Stars" in Hong Kong

In 1999, she was a member of the jury at the 49th Berlin International Film Festival.[22]

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.[23]

On 25 November 2002, she was honoured as The Outstanding Young Persons of the World (TOYP) (Cultural Achievement) by JCI (Junior Chamber International).[24]

On 23 April 2007, the then 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.[25]

In 2011, she received a special award for her contribution to Malaysian cinema at Malaysian Film Festival (FFM 24).

On 14 March 2012, the then French President Nicolas Sarkozy awarded her the Officier de la Légion d'honneur. The decoration was presented to her at a ceremony held at the president's official residence, the Elysee Palace on that day.[26]

On 22 May 2012, she was awarded the Darjah Seri Paduka Mahkota Perak (SPMP) which carries the title Datuk Seri' during the investiture ceremony in conjunction with the Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah's birthday.[27]

Michelle Yeoh receives the Excellence in Asian Cinema award during the seventh annual Asian Film Awards on March 2013 at Hong Kong.

On 1 June 2013, she was awarded the Panglima Setia Mahkota (PSM) which carries the title Tan Sri during the investiture ceremony in conjunction with the birthday of Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah.[28]

On 30 November 2013, she presided as the Chief Guest at International Film Festival of India.[29]


1984The Owl vs BomboMiss Yeung
1985Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky StarsJudo instructor
1985Yes, MadamInspector NgNominated-Hong Kong Film Award for Best New Performer
1986Royal WarriorsMichelle Yipa.k.a. Wong ga jin si
1987Magnificent WarriorsFok Ming-Ming
1987Easy MoneyMichelle Yeunga.k.a. Tong tian da dao
1992Police Story 3: Super CopInspector Jessica Yang
1993The Heroic TrioChing / Invisible Woman / Number 3
1993Butterfly and SwordLady Ko
1993Holy WeaponChing Sze / To Col Ching
1993Once a CopJessica Yang
1993Tai Chi MasterSiu Lin
1994Shaolin Popey 2 – Messy TempleAh Kinga.k.a. Shao Lin xiao zi II: Xin wu long yuan
1994Wonder SevenYinga.k.a. 7 jin gong
1994Wing ChunYim Wing Chun
1996The Stunt WomanAh Kama.k.a. A Jin de gu shi
1997The Soong SistersSoong Ai-ling / Madam KungNominated-Hong Kong Film Award for Best Supporting Actress
1997Tomorrow Never DiesWai LinNominated-MTV Movie Award for Best Fight
1999Moonlight ExpressSisa.k.a. Sing yuet tung wa
2000Crouching Tiger, Hidden DragonYu Shu LienNominated-TFCA Award for Best Performance, Female
Nominated-Saturn Award for Best Actress
Nominated-BAFTA Film Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Nominated-Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Action Team
Nominated-Golden Horse Award for Best Actress
Nominated-Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actress
Nominated-VFCC Award for Best Actress
2002The TouchPak Yin Fay
2004Silver HawkLulu Wong / The Silver HawkExecutive producer、producer
2005Memoirs of a GeishaMameha
2006FearlessMs. YangDirector's cut only
2007Far NorthSaiva
2008The Children of Huang ShiMrs.Wang
2008Purple Mountain
2008Babylon A.D.Sister Rebeka
2008The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon EmperorZi Juan (voice)Video Game
2008The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon EmperorZi Yuan
2010True LegendSister Yu
2010Reign of AssassinsZeng JingChinese title Jianyu a.k.a. Jianyu Jianghu
Nominated-Asian Film Award for Best Actress
Nominated-People's Choice Award for Favorite Actress
Nominated-Huabiao Film Award for Outstanding Abroad Actress
2011Kung Fu Panda 2SoothsayerVoice
2011The LadyAung San Suu Kyibiographical film about the Nobel laureate
2012Pad Yatra: A Green OdysseyDocumentary,executive producer
2013Final RecipeJuliaPost production
2014Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II: The Green DestinyYu Shu LienPre-production

Awards and nominations[edit]

YearNominated WorkAwardResults
1986Yes, MadamNominated-Hong Kong Film Award for Best New PerformerNominated
1998Tomorrow Never DiesNominated-MTV Movie Award for Best FightNominated
2000Crouching Tiger, Hidden DragonTFCA Award for Best Performance, FemaleNominated
2001Crouching Tiger, Hidden DragonSaturn Award for Best ActressNominated
2001Crouching Tiger, Hidden DragonBAFTA Film Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading RoleNominated
2001Crouching Tiger, Hidden DragonBlockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Action TeamNominated
2001Crouching Tiger, Hidden DragonNominated-Golden Horse Award for Best ActressNominated
2001Crouching Tiger, Hidden DragonHong Kong Film Award for Best ActressNominated
2001Crouching Tiger, Hidden DragonVFCC Award for Best ActressNominated
2011Reign of AssassinsAsian Film Award for Best ActressNominated
2011Reign of AssassinsPeople's Choice Award for Favorite ActressNominated
2011Reign of AssassinsHuabiao Film Award for Outstanding Abroad ActressNominated

Special Awards[edit]

1998Asian Media AwardWon
2001ShoWest Award for International Star of the YearWon
2013Outstanding Contribution to Asian CinemaWon


  1. ^ a b c d Kee Hua Chee (19 January 2004). "Her own person". The Star. Malaysia. Retrieved 13 November 2011. Interview. 
  2. ^ a b "Michelle Yeoh Biography (1962–)". film reference. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  3. ^ Jaya, Petaling (28 May 2013). "Michelle Yeoh and Zang Toi set to receive honours". Malaysia Star. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  4. ^ "Total Recall: The 25 Best Action Heroines of All Time". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "35 All-Time Screen Beauties: Michelle Yeoh". People magazine. 6 October 2009. ISSN 0093-7673. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  6. ^ Site
  7. ^ Tourtellotte, Bob (2 August 2008). "Michelle Yeoh brings kicks and poise to 'Mummy'". Reuters. 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." 
  8. ^ Ferguson, Amy. "Back in Action". Tribute. Retrieved 5 January 2007. [dead link]
  9. ^ Cohen, David (11 February 1997). "Bond girl Yeoh gets licence to thrill 007". South China Morning Post. 
  10. ^ "Bond Leading Lady Won't Do Stunts". Associated Press. 21 May 1997. 
  11. ^ Chung, Winnie (30 May 1997). "Much More Than Just A Bond Girl". South China Morning Post. 
  12. ^ "Michelle Yeoh Biography". Scrup.au. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  13. ^ Chung, Philip W. (1 August 2008). "Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh: From ‘Tai Chi Master’ to ‘The Mummy’". AsianWeek. Retrieved 4 August 2008. 
  14. ^ "Michelle Yeoh, The New Face of Guerlain". Butterboom. 24 October 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  15. ^ "Michelle Yeoh Named as Guerlain's New Celebrity Ambassador". Asia Pacific Arts. 13 October 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  16. ^ "Myanmar Deports Michelle Yeoh Over Suu Kyi Movie". Yahoo News. Associated Press. 27 June 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  17. ^ Swain, Jon (25 March 2007). "No business like Yeoh business". The Times (London). Retrieved 8 April 2007. (subscription required). 
  18. ^ "Michelle Yeoh: I believe in afterlife". The Buddhist Channel. 29 July 2008. Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  19. ^ "The Lady – Interview with Michelle Yeoh". AVIVA-Berlin. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  20. ^ "Bond girl Michelle Yeoh to visit Vietnam for road safety campaign". talkvietnam.com. 22 October 2008. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  21. ^ "Patrons and Supporters". Save China's Tigers. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  22. ^ "Berlinale: 1999 Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 28 January 2012. 
  23. ^ "Just Call Me Datuk". Asiaweek 27 (17). 4 May 2001. ISSN 1012-6244. Archived from the original on 9 May 2001. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  24. ^ "Awards & Recognitions / Achievements". jciklm.org. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  25. ^ "Yeoh receives France's top honour". BBC News. 4 October 2007. Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  26. ^ "Michelle Yeoh receives Legion of Honour from France". Bernama via mysinchew.com. 16 March 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2012. 
  27. ^ "Datuk Michelle Yeoh now 'Datuk Seri'". Yahoo News. Retrieved 3 June 2012. 
  28. ^ "She's Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh now". Yahoo News. Retrieved 1 June 2013. 
  29. ^ "Actress Michelle Yeoh to be Chief Guest at IFFI Closing Ceremony". Biharprabha News. Retrieved 1 December 2013. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Izabella Scorupco
Bond girl
Succeeded by
Denise Richards