Michelle Yeoh Worried About Being Recast in ‘Wicked’ Movies After Producers Heard Her Sing

Also in this week's "Just for Variety," Angela Bassett reveals Oscar prep plans and "Girls" producer Judd Apatow says he's hoping for a reunion of the hit HBO series

Michelle Yeoh at the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at The Beverly Hilton on January 10, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California.
Gilbert Flores for Variety

Welcome to this week’s “Just for Variety.”

Ever since I broke the news that Michelle Yeoh is playing Madame Morrible in Jon M. Chu’s “Wicked” movies, she has been saying that the films will mark her singing debut. However, Yeoh’s biggest fans have posted videos on social media of her showing off her vocal chops while singing the theme song of her 1993 movie “Butterfly and Sword.”

Yeoh laughed when I brought it up at the Mandarin Oriental-hosted dinner in honor of her Oscar nomination for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” “That was so many years ago in Taiwan,” she said. At the time, she asked the song’s lyricist to make things simple for her. “I said to him, ‘I don’t sing, and I don’t speak Mandarin. Can you please not have many words?’” Yeoh recalled. “But then the first time he showed me, I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’”

Yeoh is working with a vocal coach for “Wicked”: “I went in thinking this is going to be so scary — they’re going to recast me when they hear me. But I am having so much fun!”

Chu’s two-film adaptation of the Broadway musical also stars Ariana Grande, Cynthia Erivo, Jonathan Bailey and Jeff Goldblum.

As Twitter recently lit up with people tweeting about rewatching “Girls,” producer Judd Apatow says he’d like to see a reunion movie or a new season of the hit HBO series. “I hope that happens. It’s definitely built for it,” he told me at the DGA Awards. “I think we’d love to see what they’re doing, but it’s up to Lena Dunham.”

Apatow says he and Dunham haven’t discussed the possibility … yet. “I’m all about revisiting people,” he said. “Remember when Mary Tyler Moore and [Valerie Harper] had that TV movie, ‘Mary and Rhoda,’ when they were much older?”

Angela Bassett at the 25th Costume Designers Guild Awards held at the Fairmont Century Plaza on February 27, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. Gilbert Flores for Variety

Angela Bassett reveals how she’ll be getting ready for the Oscars. The “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” nominee tells me, “I will put on some soundscapes, like raindrops. Summer rain is relaxing because it has mathematics embedded in it. It calms your alpha/beta rays. I’m going to do a sauna, take a bath. I don’t do yoga, but I do CBD oils.”

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PARIS, FRANCE – FEBRUARY 24: (L-R) Eden Dambrine, Lukas Dhont and Gustav De Waele attend the photocall during the 48th Cesar Film Awards at Le Fouquet’s on February 24, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Foc Kan/WireImage) WireImage

Director Lukas Dhont’s “Close,” nominated for an Academy Award for international feature, is a beautiful art-house drama about a tragedy that occurs when two 13-year-old boys (Eden Dambrine and Gustav De Waele) become so close that classmates bully them about being a possible couple. Dhont, who made his feature film debut with “Girl” in 2018, tells me indies weren’t his goal when he first became a filmmaker: “I thought I was going to make movies about zombies and vampires.”

I caught up with Dhont and his two “Close” stars when they traveled to L.A. for a round of screenings and Q&As. Eden and Gustav were in school when the Oscar noms were announced. “I had my phone, sneaky, with YouTube on, so the teacher couldn’t see,” Eden says. “When I heard it, I started crying and I was jumping up in the air and rolling on the ground.”

Gustav adds, “I was in dance class. I couldn’t watch it because you can’t have your phone when you’re dancing. When my friends and I heard the news, we ran to the other classes to tell them, but they already knew because they were watching it live.”

Click here to check out your favorite celebs, influencers and Hollywood insiders in February’s party pics gallery.

Christian Borle and J Harrison Ghee in “Some Like It Hot” on Broadway Marc J. Franklin

“Some Like It Hot” is becoming, well, the hottest ticket on Broadway. The starry list of bold-faced names checking out the show since it opened at the Shubert Theatre in December includes Sam Smith, Samara Joy, Steven Spielberg, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Whoopi Goldberg, Susan Sarandon, Debbie Allen, Hank Azaria and Laurie Metcalf. Martin Short liked it so much, he’s seen the show twice. I also hear that Hilary Clinton and Glenn Close will be attending a performance in the next couple of weeks or so.

Kristofer Hivju at the “Cocaine Bear” premiere on Feb. 21 in Los Angeles. Michael Buckner for Variety

“Game of Thrones” star Emilia Clarke may have told Variety that she won’t watch “House of the Dragon,” but her co-star Kristofer Hivju had no problem tuning in. “I loved it,” Hivju, who played Tormund Giantsbane on “GoT,” told me at the premiere of “Cocaine Bear.” “It was a bit weird to watch because it’s the same universe. But also, George R.R. Martin’s universe is so huge that all of this can be done.”