Michelle Yeoh and Daniels Break Down That Early Fight Scene from ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’
We might still be processing the existential beauty of Daniels' latest project, but they are here to break down one of our favorite scenes from the film.
If you haven’t watched Everything Everywhere All at Once, then you are missing out on some of the most fun and emotionally moving fight sequences of cinematic history. Each fight is motivated by the characters’ emotional desires to live in or out of the existential conundrum of the multiverse.
Evelyn Quan Wang (Michelle Yeoh) and the IRS inspector Deirdre Beaubeirdra (Jamie Lee Curtis) are unassuming characters that we wouldn’t expect to have some of the most memorable scenes, but their first fight to their last embrace keeps us returning to the theater for more.
Vanity Fair sat down with the Daniels and Michelle Yeoh to break down Evelyn’s and Deirdre’s first fight sequence at the IRS building, highlighting the audience’s first introduction to the film’s multiverse and how Daniels found the perfect balance of the film’s tonal mismatch. You can check out the full video below.
Daniel Kwan believes that Evelyn’s first fight sequence is important because it teaches the audience how to watch the film. The multiple films taking place in a single film all have their distinct visual language and tone that juxtaposes the central narrative.
For instance, we see a romance film. Daniels wanted to lean in and celebrate the tropes of the genre. By establishing the scene in a 185 framing, which is what you’d typically use for a rom-com or drama, the audience can tell the difference between the romantic drama scene from the anamorphic shot of the futuristic dimension guiding Alpha Waymond Wang (Ke Huy Quan) and Evelyn through their multidimensional jumps.
The color, lens choices, the performances, the music, and the thematic points help the audience differentiate where the film is and the emotional beats it is taking. The romance-drama and action sequences happen at the same time to juxtapose the physical pain and emotional pain of a discussion about divorce.
The scene was shot during the pandemic, so Daniels staged the scene to accommodate the bizarre filming situation. Ke was on set with a stand-in while Michelle’s dialogue was captured on a set in Paris, directed by Daniels via Zoom call. The film relies on the actors’ performances and the ability to switch between different versions of themselves on a whim. Whether it is complete confidence, confusion, or tender heartbreak, the amazing performances of the cast sell the quick transitions between universes and inform the audience that each little choice matters to all of the narratives.
Ke Huy Quan, who hasn’t been in front of a camera in nearly 20 years, did a lot of preparation for the film, according to Michelle Yeoh. He worked with an acting coach, voice coach, and body language coach, and visualized what each of his characters resembled until it manifested into the actual character’s presentation.
Ke Huy Quan as Alpha Waymond Wang in 'Everything Everywhere All at Once'Credit: A24
One thing we adore about Daniels’ filmmaking is their dedication to practical effects. In a climactic moment of the fight sequences, Deirdre has a Matrix martial arts reference with a wide perspective of her jumping across a staircase. This shot would have been impossible to achieve if it weren’t for location scouting. Daniels found a building that had a staircase they were looking for in an industrial space that allowed them to see everything without having to build it. Location scouting is vital, and Daniels do it with soft eyes, willing to rewrite the script if they believe a certain space can do more for the story.
The jump was performed on a set with wires, giving energy that replicates traditional martial arts sequences, and the wires (as well as some key lights) were removed in post-production. The SFX team was also placed on the staircase below Deirdre to blow a fan to add movement to her clothes and hair to add a layer of intensity to the jump.
Everything Everywhere All at Once is a love letter to cinema and the movie watcher. It is a celebration of the tropes we often roll our eyes at. It asks us to enjoy the absurdity and heartfelt moments of every aspect of a film–the performances, cinematography, writing, direction, special effects, editing, sound, and so much more.
You can watch Everything Everywhere All at Once now in theaters.
Have you watched Daniels’ latest film? Let us know what you thought about it in the comments below!
Source: Vantiy Fair