Michelle Yeoh biography
Birth Name: Yang Zi Chong
Date of Birth: August 6, 1962
Born in the mining town of Ipoh, Malaysia, Yeoh earned an international standing as a teenage athlete. She was inspired by Fame (1980) and her passion for ballet to enroll in the Royal Academy of Dance in London where she attained an Advanced Level degree. Eventually she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Creative Arts in England.
Yeoh returned to Malaysia in 1983 when a back injury ended her dancing career. There she was eventually crowned Miss Malaysia, as well as 'Miss Mooba' in Melbourne which led her to Hong Kong to make a commercial with Jackie Chan. The commercial caught the attention of a small film production company called D&B films. She signed with D&B and debuted in 1985 in a non-action role in the action comedy, Owls vs. Dumbo.
Taking the stage name Michelle Khan, she acted in bit parts in a number of forgettable films until her breakout role in the girls-with-guns action comedy Yes, Madam! (1985) alongside noted kung fu femme fatal Cynthia Rothrock. Though she did not know any martial arts before signing on to the film, Yeoh reportedly spent nine hours a day in the gym, working out and learning to take a punch. Her training in dance contributed to one of Yeoh's unique characteristics—she performs her own stunts.
Yeoh immediately became one of Hong Kong's biggest female action stars and was soon appearing in films at a dizzying rate. In 1988 she married store tycoon and studio head Dickson Poon and retired from screen.
She returned to the big screen after leaving her husband in 1992, with the blockbuster Police Story III: Supercop, co-starring Jackie Chan. Before filming, Chan was skeptical as to whether women could fight, but after watching her complete a number of complicated stunts, he reconsidered. The film became the highest grossing movie that year and garnered Yeoh a huge following in both Asia and America. She soon became the highest paid actress in Asia. In the next two years she made a total of eight pictures, including two cult classics, The Heroic Trio and T'ai Chi Master. While filming Ah Kam, Yeoh seriously injured herself when she misjudged a jump off an 18-foot wall and landed on her head. She was put in traction and it was believed she would never walk again. Miraculously, she returned to the set one month later to finish the shoot.
When Supercop was released in America, Yeoh was soon offered the co-starring role in the next James Bond film with Pierce Brosnan. Once again, her performance in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) threatened to outclass the male lead. In 1998 MGM studios were in talks to have Yeoh return in her role for the next James Bond film, or perhaps develop a solo film instead.
For the beginning of the new millenium, Yeoh completed yet another action drama, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), this time with famed Asian movie gun slinger, Yun Fat Chow. She received her first BAFTA film nomination for her work in the film and was named International Star of the Year at the 2001 ShoWest Convention. She has since appeared in several notable films, like Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), Fearless (2006), The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), Babylon A.D. (2008) and a voice-over in Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011). Yeoh followed this up with a role as the famous Burma politician Aung San Suu Kyi in Luc Besson's film, The Lady (2012).
Yeoh can most recently be seen in the action sequel Mechanic: Resurrection (2016) starring Jason Statham and Jessica Alba, as well as the sci-fi thriller Morgan (2016).