TALENT TALK: A Conversation With <I>My Big Fat Greek Wedding</I> Writer/Actor Nia Vardalos18 Nov, 2002 By: Jessica Wolf
“Yes, I’m surprised.”
These are the to-the-point words offered by writer/actor Nia Vardalos when asked about the phenomenal theatrical success of her hit film My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The title makes its video appearance Feb. 11 -- just in time for Valentine’s Day -- from HBO Home Video.
“There are maybe three reasons why the film has done so well,” Vardalos said in a telephone interview alongside co-star John Corbett. “It has wedding in the title, people think John Corbett is hot, and they know Tom Hanks is associated with us. You put those three together, and people are going to plunk down their money.”
My Big Fat Greek Wedding has been one of the charming surprises of the season. Lacking big-name stars, the film chugged along for months in theaters before word-of-mouth turned it into a major theatrical hit. Based on the one-woman stage play written by and starring Vardalos -- and based on her own experiences -- the story is of a young woman of Greek ancestry living with her parents in Chicago. Looking for her own identity and a soul mate, she strikes out on her own. When she finds a non-Greek as a potential husband and threatens to become an independent businesswoman, her no-nonsense father is outraged. The family must make amends, culminating in a massive Greek wedding, complete with a number of near-disasters.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding found its way to the screen after Rita Wilson, of Greek ancestry and the wife of Hanks, saw the play and decided it would make a good movie. Husband Tom was enlisted to help, and the film was on its way to becoming a household name.
“It all happened pretty quickly,” Vardalos said. “Everyone told me I would be crazy to try to let anybody else write it, so I added several pages and there it was. I tried to cram in as much comedy as I could without going too far.”
Corbett was happy she took on the task.
“When I read the script, I saw a sweet fairy tale -- something that would break your heart, then make you smile again,” he said. “When I was finished, I felt like I really knew those two people.”
“Get them in on time and keep bringing in food, and Greek extras are happy, and do wonderful work,” Vardalos said with a laugh.