Having two action experts in the starring roles helped stunt coordinator Timothy Eulich make mayhem in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which features Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan jumping through a manic multiverse created by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, the directing duo known as the Daniels.
In the A24 film, now in theaters, Yeoh plays Evelyn, a laundromat owner and mother who navigates the changing scenarios to save her family, including Quan as her husband, Waymond, and ends up with a new outlook on life and love. Key props: a fanny pack that’s used as a martial arts weapon and a butt plug-shaped IRS Auditor of the Year trophy that’s a portal to other dimensions.
Eulich, who has collaborated with the Daniels for 11 years, including on 2016’s “Swiss Army Man,” is familiar with their M.O. He spent several weeks working with them to visualize the scenes. “They know what they want and what they like,” he says. “We would design some of the fights off of the two directors performing the action themselves, and then we would build action sequences based off of that reference, amping up the stunts and reactions.”
Much of the action pays homage to Hong Kong movies and actors like Jackie Chan, who does most of his own stunts. With Yeoh and Quan at the ready, Eulich makes it clear that the Daniels wanted to use the actors, instead of stunt people, as much as possible in every shot that included their characters.
Eulich was particularly excited to sink his teeth into the fanny pack scene, which features Quan wielding the utilitarian fashion accessory to fend off a squad of IRS security guards. The actor shared his enthusiasm. “He was obsessed because he was with us every single day and he didn’t want to leave the rehearsal hall,” Eulich says.
When he wasn’t on set, Quan was practicing on his own. He brought the fanny pack with him, swinging the nearly seven-foot-long device around his house and refining his technique based on wushu rope dart martial arts. “It was clear he was practicing at home because every day he’d be better than he was the day before,” says Eulich.
As the film reaches its climax, there’s one more fight featuring Evelyn and Brian Le as a baddie. Battling for possession of the butt plug trophy, they must jump over one desk and land on another.
“We weren’t sure how we were going to shoot that,” Eulich says.
Eulich went back to his stunt team to give the filmmakers options — whether they wanted to do it through quick cuts or just have the camera land on Le and Yeoh in the middle of it all. Still, he knew from Yeoh’s work in films such as “Supercop” and “Silver Hawk” that she could handle difficult martial arts sequences.
Eulich had set aside two weeks of rehearsal to work with Yeoh on the scene. “She came in and used three days of that,” he says. Yeoh filmed sequences on her iPhone and then worked on them away from the set. “She would mark through everything until she felt comfortable with it,” Eulich explains. “When [we] were back on set, she would mark it [again] with the other performers, and as soon as they called action, she would just send it — I mean energy full out. It was spectacular to watch.”