Michelle Yeoh back in action as an elven warrior in The Witcher: Blood Origin


Michelle Yeoh gets whimsical in her latest role, playing an elf-like creature with deadly sword-fighting skills in Netflix The Witcher: Origin of Blood. But if you ask the longtime action star what it was like to return to her warrior roots, she’ll happily reply, « I never left! »

That is true. In the past few years alone, the 60-year-old Malaysian actress – who became a bonafide movie star during Hong Kong’s 90s action movie boom – has made some memorable turns in Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and the wildly imaginative box office phenomenon Everything everywhere all at once.

Whether she was playing the aunt of a superhero martial artist or a mother and laundromat owner with mad kung fu skills, she was kicking – a reliable part of any Michelle Yeoh performance.

A prequel to the 2019 series of the same name, The Witcher: Origin of Blood is a four-episode miniseries set 1,200 years before the events of the original series. Yeoh sneaks into her role as Scian, an elven warrior who, after her tribesmen are killed by a vengeful king, embarks on a journey to bring her ancestors to justice.

“Each action sequence depends on the character and the reason for their origin,” Yeoh explained in an interview with CBC News, describing the work involved in developing fight choreography for different characters.

« For example, Scian. She’s part of the ghost tribe who are very skilled, very skilled – the elves – and there’s a reason for their name, the ghost tribe. It’s like they’re invisible until it’s too late for you or whoever [they] you have to get rid of it,” she said.

WATCH | The trailer for sequel series The Witcher: Origin of Blood:

Working closely with the series’ stunt coordinators, Yeoh and the team devised a plan: To « [an elf] of the Ghost Tribe, what is their specialty? Why and how would they move?

« For Scian, everything is stealth and fast and very fast. So it has to come [into] understand the character I’m playing. And with that in mind, we choreograph the way he moves. »

The character « resonated very, very deeply »

While the original series, now slated for a fourth season starring Liam Hemsworth, was about a headhunter – called a witcher – in a fantasy world of monsters and humans, Origin of blood looks back to establish some of the earlier lore, including how the first witcher was born and what led to the destruction of elf society.

It is based on the eponymous book series by Polish fantasy writer Andrzej Sapkowski. The new series also stars British actress Sophia Brown and Irish actor Laurence O’Fuarain, while Minnie Driver appears in a supporting role.

Michelle Yeoh is seen in an image from The Witcher: Blood Origin, in which she plays a warrior named Scian who fights to avenge her ancestors. (Lilja Jonsdottir)

Yeoh said her character’s deep spirituality and quest to connect with her ancestors after they passed away was part of what drew her to the series, which premiered Dec. 25 on Netflix Canada.

“She lives in isolation from the rest of the world because she is the last of her clan,” after her other members were murdered for refusing to be bribed with money, choosing honor instead, Yeoh said .

« It definitely resonated very, very deeply because I think you have to find what the motivation of a character is? You know? Why is she on this quest? And when she has such a tragedy or such a commitment, it makes the journey, the quest much stronger.

« For her, it was her quest. It’s to seek revenge on her tribe, some kind of justice for her tribe. »


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