James Hong Gets Candid About Making the “Berserk” Everything Everywhere All at Once

The legendary actor thinks the film's too long, but "it's one of these psychic movies that eats into a person's soul"

James Hong Everything Everywhere Interview

James Hong is the living definition of a screen legend, having appeared in literally hundreds of films, TV shows, and video games as an actor. Some of his most notable roles include appearances in Blade Runner, Big Trouble in Little China, The Golden Child, and the Kung Fu Panda series — he memorably fought Wayne Campbell over the hand of his daughter in Wayne’s World 2, and just this spring provided the voice of local elder Mr. Gao in Pixar’s Turning Red.

And then there’s Everything Everywhere All at Once, the genre-warping, mind-bending exercise in multiverse-hopping written and directed by Daniels. In the film, Hong, 93, plays Gong Gong, father to Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) and grandfather to Joy (Stephanie Hsu) — traditional in his ways and a disapproving figure in Evelyn’s life, Gong Gong does warm up to his family by the end of the film, as they all ultimately grow closer through a strange confluence of events.

Hong, speaking one-on-one with Consequence, was more candid than stars usually are about the experience of working on a film. (Also, “Too much work — I’d rather sleep” was his response to the question “How are you today?”; a very relatable sentiment.) In the interview below, transcribed and lightly edited for clarity, he mentions his issues with Everything Everywhere’s length, while mourning some of the cuts that were made, including elements he’d improv’ed on set.

He also, to be clear, has many, many positive things to say about the experience of making the film in general and working with Yeoh in particular. He also shares some details about the project he hopes he might get to make in the future — something that, even after literally hundreds of other projects, would be something he’d never done before.

[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Everything Everywhere All at Once.]

To start, I always notice that when actors get to sit down for long periods of time in a movie — like you get to do in this movie with the wheelchair. It must be a relief not to stand for a long time when they’re setting up shots and so forth.

You know, I didn’t really mind standing or sitting. That wheelchair was a horrible one, as you can see from the film. But it was nice to have people wheel me around, especially since we were at this so-called studio, which was actually a deserted federal building. There were long corridors to get from one set to another, so there was someone wheeling me around from one set to another. That was very good instead of having to walk three miles down the hallway. There are a lot of pluses.

How did you get involved with the film?

That’s going way back, because they kept postponing the shooting date. I think it was because they wanted some special actress to play some role. I kept waiting and I got really tired of waiting. Finally, they said they were going to go. Thank goodness they did, because it was just prior to the Covid pandemic. We got through with it on the last day just before they shut everything down. We started — I forgot the month, even, let’s say December 2019. It’s hard to remember.

I got into a little house they rented, it was a production office, and I read the role with them. In a way, when you look at the film, I’m a natural for the grandfather.


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