The incomparable Michelle Yeoh plays a harried Chinese American laundromat owner facing an IRS audit in the new science-fiction action comedy Everything Everywhere All at Once. Evelyn Wang is just trying to sift through a mountain of paperwork and crumpled receipts to keep her life from falling apart when she unexpectedly gets pulled into an epic battle across multiple timelines. And the stakes couldn’t be higher: the very survival of the entire multiverse is on the line.
Directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert—collectively known as Daniels—are known for their ability to straddle genres, deftly blending comic absurdity and outré weirdness with moments of gut-wrenching poignancy. Everything Everywhere All at Once is only their second feature film together, but you’d never know it by the assured hand Daniels brought to bear on the project, somehow bringing a chaotic jumble of disparate elements together into a coherent whole that both surprises and delights. The two creators said they found inspiration while writing the script in classic kung-fu films, as well as The Matrix and Fight Club.
“I fell in love with those movies,” Kwan said. “I was like, man, if I could just make something half as fun as The Matrix, but with our own stamp and our spirits, I would just die happy.”
Ars spoke with Kwan and Scheinert to learn more.
(Some spoilers below but no major reveals.)
Ars Technica: Why the multiverse? What is it that drew you to that concept?
Daniel Kwan: One of the first times I thought about the multiverse was maybe 15 years ago. I was watching Sherman’s March, a documentary. One of the many relationships in that movie was a linguist who talks about modal realism [a philosophical argument holding that all possible worlds are real in the same way as the actual world]. I started to go down a Wikipedia rabbit hole. And I was like, “This is fantastic and beautiful.” You know what’s really embarrassing? I got so sucked into modal realism that I never finished the movie. Does it have a happy ending? I have no idea.