The producers of the Matrix films are going to get a Hong Kong star in the franchise, one way or another.
Word is that Asian film star Jet Li, who broke through with American audiences this year with Romeo Must Die, is out of the Matrix sequels, and that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's Michelle Yeoh is in.
Variety's Michael Fleming reports that Yeoh is now being courted for the role for which Li was once being wooed by writer-directors Larry and Andy Wachowski.
According to Variety, Li is out of the running because the Wachowskis simply couldn't afford him after paying out a $30 million advance to Keanu Reeves, not to mention profit-sharing deals with producer Joel Silver and the Wachowskis themselves.
Reportedly, Li was asking for $13 million but was only offered $3 million and no share of the gross to work for 11 months on the two back-to-back sequels. Since he's already being paid $9.5 million in advance to star in The One, he didn't want to settle for $1.5 million per film.
Yeoh's English-language crossover film was the James Bond installment Tomorrow Never Dies, but the surprisingly feminist Chinese-language epic Tiger is proving to be a bigger career boost to Yeoh than the Bond flick, which didn't fully capitalize on her martial arts skills.
Coincidentally, Li turned down the role in Crouching Tiger that went to Chow Yun-Fat.