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Fri, Oct 23, 2009
The New Paper
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This butt-kicker still a looker at 47
by Tan Kee Yun

THERE is no special secret to looking fabulous in your late 40s.

At least not for the gorgeous Michelle Yeoh, who does not look a day older than she was 10 years ago.

The 47-year-old veteran actress, who is the ambassador for dairy products brand Anlene, was in town yesterday for the launch of Anlene’s Cheers to Strong Bones campaign, held in conjunction with World Osteoporosis Day.

Speaking to reporters at Shangri-LaHotel, the former Miss Malaysia was refreshingly candid when the topic veered to her success in maintaining her elegant beauty and slim figure.

“I must say I’m very happy being in my 40s. It does take great effort to look good, but it helps that exercise has always been an important part of my life,” she said.

“Working out is a daily routine for me, I do my stretching, I also walk a lot.”

The Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon star is renowned for doing her own stunts in her action and martial arts films.

Indeed, strength and toughness are words that have been commonly associated with her since her early movies, namely Once A Cop (1993)and Wing Chun(1994).

She will return to her action roots in her next film, The Sword And The Martial Arts World, co-directed by Hong Kong’s John Woo and Taiwanese film-maker Su Chao-pin.

But beneath that tough, steely exterior, Michelle admitted that she’s “really feminine at heart”.

“There’s no conflict in being tough and feminine at the same time.

“I might not be your frilly girly type of girl and, yes, I play kick-butt roles in films, but martial arts, to me, is a form of meditation, it’s not me trying to be masculine.

“Like most women, I enjoy men opening doors for me, lending me a helping hand when I need one.”

She pointed out, too, that her repertoire is “actually quite diverse” and she has taken on “gentler roles” like a geisha in Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) and an astronaut in Sunshine (2007). Even in her last film, the action-packed The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, she played a kind, selfless mother.

Michelle was previously married to Hong Kong business man Dickson Poon, whose company Dickson Concepts owns businesses such as Harvey Nichols and Charles Jourdan.

The couple divorced after 31/2 years. She is currently engaged to Mr Jean Todt, former chief executive officer of Ferrari and a leading figure in the F1 racing scene.

She was recently picked by People Magazine as one of its Top 35 All-Time Screen Beauties, alongside Hollywood stars such as Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman and Gwyneth Paltrow. Michelle said the news caught her by surprise.

“I almost fell off the chair when I heard I had made the list,” she said.

“But to be the only Asian actress included, I’m honoured. In a way, I feel I’m representing a lot of Asian women, showing the world that we are graceful and strong.”

And it’s not that difficult to be as fit as her, she said.


“You don’t have to go to the gym to work out,” she said.

“People tend to put off their gym sessions forever, they’ll say, ‘Oh, I’ll just go tomorrow’, but tomorrow becomes next week, and they’d just keep delaying it till one day, they’ve given it up completely.”

Hectic schedules are the norm in today’s fast-paced society, she said, so the key is to devise different ways to incorporate exercise into one’s regular schedule.

“When I was younger, I used to play squash almost every other day,” said Michelle with a grin.

“Now, with my work load, that has taken a backseat.

“I don’t have the time to indulge in sporting activities as often as I hope to, so I dance whenever I can.”

She would “simply turn on some music” in her living room at home, then “shake along to it”, she said.

But she’s no amateur dancer.

At 15, she left her hometown in Ipoh for England and majored in ballet at the Royal Academy of Dance in London.

The best part about exercising consistently, she said, is that she can afford to occasionally indulge on food. “Keeping fit is never about dieting, you just got to eat in moderation,” she said.

“I still enjoy my red wines and chocolates.”

This article was first published in The New Paper

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