2022 produced one of the best, genre-bending A24 films ever. Everything Everywhere All At Once became an instant cult classic, and turned out to be the highest-grossing A24 project ever. The movie has been described as an emotional and oft-bizarre approach to the themes of family and the multiverse, something that has been incredibly popular in pop culture at the moment (if Marvel has shown us anything). But did you know that Everything Everywhere All At Once was meant to star Jackie Chan as the lead character?
The movie follows Evelyn Want – a tired Chinese-American woman struggling to stay afloat in the modern world. She eventually uncovers a strange reality that she is the key to saving the multiverse and can access the knowledge and talents of all her various selves from across all the infinite universes.
Everything Everywhere All At Once was directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, who collectively came to be known as The Daniels and stars Harry Shum Jr. (Crazy Rich Asians), James Hong (Blade Runner), Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween), Jenny Slate (Obvious Child), Ke Huy Quan (The Goonies), Michelle Yeoh (Memoirs of a Geisha), and Stars Stephanie Hsu (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings).
The Original Plan
What many people don’t know is that Everything Everywhere All At Once was originally written with the plan to have action movie icon Jackie Chan in the lead role, with the plan to have Yeoh cast as his character’s wife. The Hollywood Reporter did a deep dive and found out that unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately because everything turned out for the best) Chan was unavailable when the movie was ready to be made, so the script had to be rewritten to have Yeoh lead the entire project, which was then carried over to the finished film.
“You never know with the alchemy of storytelling how things will fall,” co-director Daniel Kwan says in the report. “Swapping the characters made it more personal, which gave us a wealth of experience to imbue into the story. Suddenly it became a lot easier to write and imagine.”
“But yeah, the script was just incredible,” Kwan added. “And what’s amazing is that we shot the entire movie without making any changes to the script. And when we began rolling cameras, we shot it in the way it was written. We shot it in 38 days… It was also great to witness on set how the Daniels brought all those beautiful words [together] and put it up on the screen.”
“What I need is to be challenged, to have directors look at me in a different way,” Yeoh revealed. “Over the years, my [character] has been strong, held together. So when I read the script, I was like, “Whoa, what?”
Everything happens for a reason, it seems, and it turned out for the best because Everything Everywhere All At Once is one of the biggest and best movies this year, so thanks for being busy Jackie Chan, I guess.