Michelle Yeoh had some advice for the Cannes jury

Before introducing Michelle Yeoh as guest of honor at the Kering Women in Motion dinner in Cannes, the festival’s director, Thierry Frémaux, recalled Yeoh’s first visit to Cannes, in 2002 when she was invited to be part of the jury that decided on the Palme d’Or.

Since Yeoh recently entered awards season that culminated in her Best Actress Oscar win for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” I stopped by her table on Sunday to ask if Cannes’ trip two decades ago had given her a formative perspective on awards.

Yoh shone. “We were just having a conversation about this!” she said, referring to her tablemates, who included actors Brie Larson and Paul Dano, members of this year’s Cannes jury.

Yeoh said that in 2002, shortly after the release of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, she had no idea what she was getting into when she accepted Frémaux’s invitation to join the judging panel. “It’s very intense,” she said, “because you watch two or three movies a day, and movies aren’t fun.” “Sometimes it’s three hours long and it’s not always easy to process.”

Although the foreman of the jury, David Lynch, proved to be a constant force on the set — “David is always calm, and you set the tone,” she said — the experience of watching films like the harrowing Gaspar Noe’s “Irreversible” and the Holocaust drama “The Pianist” was (which won the Palme d’Or) is far more risky than Yeoh expected: “Two of us felt a kind of vibe to the ending, where you feel like an artist yourself, you process what you’re watching and you go through this roller coaster ride.”

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Exhale into memory. “Whew! It was a little emotional. But since then, I don’t think I’ve agreed to another jury,” said Yeoh, now 60.

Can anything convince her to come back? She made one tantalizing assumption: What if Fremo offered her the position of jury foreman?

“If Thierry asked me to do anything, I would,” said Yeoh. “This is a very simple answer.”

Kering’s dinner proved to be a fun night for the actress, who later stood in her chair to dance with Larson while a saxophonist played nearby. But Yeoh told me her most important evening recently was the Hong Kong dinner to celebrate her Oscar win and was attended by some of the superstars of the Asian films she started with, like Chow Yun Fat and Donnie Yen.

“The most important thing,” she said, “is that you know where I come from.” “It’s one thing to come from Malaysia, but my career really started in Hong Kong, where I learned the craft and started my journey. So it was important to go back and tell them how much they have meant to me over the years.”

She added, “They’ve all remained friends, and you know, sometimes you don’t have to call each other every day or see each other all the time if you’re real friends?” I smiled. “Just pick up where you left off.”

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