Despite the mind-boggling concept of Everything on paper, Hsu got the film’s tone and humor right away. “It was weird in a flavor that I really understood,” she laughed. Her love of philosophical, high-concept art helped, but it was the heart of the film and the larger theme of intergenerational gaps between millennials and their parents and first-generation Asian Americans versus second-generation Asian Americans that really hit home with the actress. Being a second-generation Asian American herself (her mother immigrated from Taiwan), Hsu deeply related to the complicated mother-daughter dynamic that plays out in unhinged fashion on-screen between her character Joy and her mother Evelyn (played by the magnificent Michelle Yeoh). The strained relationship takes on a whole new shape when Evelyn is plunged into a vertigo-inducing multiverse, where she must face all of her potential selves and defeat the villain Jobu Tupaki—an agent of chaos who takes on the appearance of Joy—in order to bring her family back together.
Working opposite Yeoh on such a creative project was a dream for Hsu. “I learned how potent the power of joy and play is,” she said of working with the screen legend. “She is clearly a master, clearly a household name, a literal star, and she is the silliest, most playful, and loving person. And especially when you are number one on a call sheet, how you [show up] is going to change the entire environment around you and determine the entire environment around you. Her willingness to do anything, I just saw how that brought everyone so much joy and made everyone feel so relieved. And she is truly so generous. She works her ass off, and even when she says she doesn’t know what she’s doing, she really does put so much trust in her collaborators that she just surrenders to the project. And I think she really surrendered to this one, even as crazy as it was.”
Everything leans heavily into the crazy—but in the best way possible. There’s an “emotional” scene in the film, in which Yeoh and Curtis have ketchup and mustard squirted all over their faces and into their mouths. There’s the temple of worshippers, and Hsu’s character is dressed in all white with Euphoria-esque pearl makeup and her hair braided into the shape of a bagel. And then of course, there’s the crowd-pleasing deserted canyon, where sentient rocks have heart-to-heart conversations. The latter is a personal favorite of Hsu, who loved the scene while reading the script and was quite pleased with how Daniels ultimately pulled it off.