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A Look Behind The Scenes Of Everything Everywhere All At Once

7 min read
EEAAO (2022)

After months of stellar reviews from audiences and critics alike, the A24 multiverse extravaganza has taken its first steps back into the spotlight this awards season. 

After taking home two wins at the , Best Feature and Outstanding Supporting Performance for , a smattering of the talented cast and crew gathered to discuss the film's success, its core messages, and their hopes for its future. 

Joining a quaint and heartwarming zoom call, hosted by Scott Mantz, were director team and (or The ), and actors and Ke Huy Quan. 

The gang starts by exuding unbridled gratitude for the film's recent Gotham success, with the Daniels describing feeling shocked, “we're still processing because now everything feels really real in a way that before yesterday, we thought this was just a fun game.” Jamie Lee Curtis jumps in, eager to praise the strong example of perseverance that Key Huy Quan's award reflects. 

“As an actor, (the industry) didn't offer him any work and he created other work for himself before making his way back to being a performer.”

She says Quan provides “an example for every single person who's ever dreamed and lost the dream and found that anything is possible and that's to me, the beauty of Key and his expansive heart .”

Quan responds by describing his own emotional journey with the film and the powerful role his wife Echo played. 

“Ever since our movie came out, there has not I have not done one single interview where I didn't get choked up… and then (at the awards) when she called out my name, I looked over to my wife, and she was crying. And I started to cry… So even before I made it up to the podium I was a mess… I'm just so so so grateful to be here.”

 

The conversation then turns to the deeper messages of the movie itself. Following 's character Evelyn as she explores a vast multiverse that has opened up to her, the movie delves into fascinating discussions of identity and purpose, exploring what giving life meaning really means – whilst also battling killer clones and her own supervillain daughter.  

Daniel Kwan begins “It's not an accident that the main character, basically is a character who believes she's the worst version of herself.” A self-reflective idea, K, found his own best version in filmmaking, a revelation which encouraged K to use the film to “open up this internal conversation I think a lot of people are having right now about their worth right now.”

“We're living in a system that really does not allow us to harness our potential. In fact, it actively is distracting us from our potential … I think this film is hopefully a way for people to forgive themselves for that and see another path forward to hopefully rewrite their own narrative.”

 

Turning now to the actors' perspectives of the film, the pair explore what it was like playing multiple characters throughout the movie's endless multiverse. 

Quan highlights the worth he found in the process. 

“I felt like the acting God was looking out for me, ‘Key since you haven't acted in 20 years, I'm gonna give you these three wonderful roles.”

His childhood process of burying emotions in a traditional Chinese household always felt quite contradictory to what an actor does. “I told myself to release some of those emotions and put them in these three characters.” 

When asked about his favourite character of the three, Quan picked Waymond, a laundromat owner. A character who is respectful, generous, and humble, Quan describes Waymond as “such a beautiful character and someone that I strive to be who is, in a lot of ways, what my wife is. And what Jamie Lee Curtis is.”

EEAAO (2022)
A24

In the film, Jamie Lee Curtis gets to play a range of wacky versions of tax agent Dierdre, a character which she feels like knew before stepping on set. 

 “I knew how sad she was. I knew how much longing she had. I have known in my life people like Dierdre. I also know what power can wield and what that does to a person and how it can create a facade of strength, really kind of impenetrability.”

She was also eager to depict the purpose of Michelle Yeoh's lead character Evelyn. 

“Evelyn is a woman that you will pass on the street without noticing. And it just broke my heart. It's those unseen human beings. And we're all still hustling and trying. They all have dreams. They all have hopes. They all have realities.” 

She goes on to highlight the absence of direct conversation needed to construct the detailed layers of the film.

“You can have a movie like this with this level of complexity, but the truth is, we just made a movie in 38 days, there wasn't this big, esoteric brain meld. It was individual work on each character. And then ultimately at the end, they have assembled something with Paul, their editor, that is just extraordinary.”

 

Everything, Everywhere All At Once was particularly notable for receiving a level of box office success typically only achievable by blockbuster films, something the directors were keen to elaborate on. 

“I think as storytellers we are always chasing contradictions. And one of the contradictions we were chasing with this film was exactly what you're talking about.”

We're looking at the film industry and the way that it was starting to branch off into these two very different directions… we were excited to be like ‘I love both those things'.”

“We wanted to see if we could combine those two things and create something that almost allowed a personal story to survive in the current theatrical landscape. And we cannot believe it actually worked.”

DS further described their initial aim of wanting to create “an entertaining movie that we wanted to watch.” An aim that became increasingly more personal as they went along. 

 “Sometimes we got self-conscious about just how like a personal it went and like ‘oh, is there gonna be too much for kung fu movie'”

“(The actors) just poured themselves into making these characters really real … the movie that we wrote about a family became really, really about a family once they all brought it to life.”

 

EEAAO (2022)
A24

When asked about the process of reading the script Key described feeling “so hungry for a script like that.”, before Jamie elaborated on Michelle's difficult job and elaborate script (which the Daniels showed us a brief picture of). 

 “She has a script with 25 Different colour tabs on all the pages because the framework was so intricate and she had to shift between languages and characters in such fast, almost imperceptible ways.”

When asked about how she deals with the bureaucracy that her character displays in the film, Jamie joked “giving them this look”, before highlighting “Patience, understanding, there's a human being on the other side… If this movie isn't about the human condition I don't know what is.”

The Daniels explained the process of choosing the absurd hotdog fingers for one multiverse. 

“There's something really fun about injecting heart into an absurd image. And that people responded to that it would sneak past their usual defences.”

Jamie was even forced to pick her most intimidating opponent of the year, from Halloween or Michelle Yeoh. With no hesitation, Jamie sighs “please Michael Myers is just a dude with a mask on. Michelle Yeoh man. The beauty of being able to fight with Michelle and learn from her vast experience was really fun, and of course, way more intimidating.”

 

Beginning to wrap up, the crew turned towards the future of the film, and their hope for the Asian representation it encourages. 

Quan retold a now iconic story about his journey back to the industry, after seeing successful movies such as Crazy Rich Asians and realising there was now space for asian actors. 

“I'm very optimistic moving forward. But as long as we're still having this conversation, we're not there yet. So I do hope that one day, for an Asian actor to be in a movie we don't have to justify it.”

“Norm and not an anomaly,” he hopes. 

Daniel Kwan furthered this, noting how inspired he felt seeing Asian actors of various generations interacting on set. “A cross-section” James Hong, Ke Huy Quan, Michelle Yeoh,  Stephanie Hsu -“ each of these people representing different versions of that journey to getting to where we are now.” He sees this journey as “Asians can be human, Asians can be profitable and now EEAAO shows Asians can be whatever the hell they want.” 

The last question was amazingly, my question. I asked “What do you hope will be the core legacy of the film as it heads into awards season and beyond, discovered by new audiences long into the future?” – and I sure got a range of powerful and emotional responses back. 

 

Curtis provides a simple and splendid slogan — “The legacy is love.”

Quan elevates this, “It makes them want to be a better person,” before reminiscing on a poster Jamie once sent the cast (and shows to us on her phone now) which said, “Note to self: be kind be kind be kind.” 

The Daniels sums up the film by downplaying the idea of legacy. “If you set out to make a film thinking about the legacy, you're going to make a crap film right? Something that is meant to be timeless ends up nowhere.”

Kwan describes how, “This film was made to be a very quick burst of energy for this very moment, a real quick reflection of what's happening right now. A snapshot. And so I honestly hope the world has changed in 15, 20, 100 years in a way where it no longer feels relevant.” 

Scheinert continues, “I hope the legacy is that this film feels dated and specific right now. I'm so either way I'm so grateful for right now at this moment. But love won't be dated, love will be cool forever.”

An eloquent, heartwarming, and honest end to what was a deeply impassioned press conference, between a cast and crew who are, even 9 months later, still in awe of the reception and success surrounding their film. 

 

Everything Everywhere All At Once is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.