It has been 15 years since Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) married Ian Miller (John Corbett) in the hit Indie film My Big Fat Greek Wedding. To celebrate the milestone, actress Lainie Kazan recalled her favorite movie moments in a new interview.
In preparation for her role as Toula’s mother, the the Brooklyn native researched by interacting with the staff at The Great Greek, one of her favorite restaurants in Sherman Oaks, California. “I just spent a lot of time with this family,” Kazan, who plays Maria Portukalos, told TooFab. “And the wife-mother had a fabulous attitude and accent. I had her read my part with her accent, and I taped it. And she really gave me the inside into the Greek culture.”
Kazan explained that she and her fellow actors were free to improvise on-set. “Who I am came through to the character; I embrace a lot,” she shared. “I’m a very loving person. I’m not at all judgmental. And I think in those ways, I was like my character.”
Although she didn’t know the rest of the cast prior to the movie, Kazan formed a special bond with her cast-mates. “It was my favorite movie to film because we all got very close,” she recalled. “We went out to dinner every night. We really got along, and everyone really had a lot of heart and great senses of humor. It was wonderful.”
Kazan remembered the cast taking their parts “very seriously.” “These people didn’t think that they were funny… They just are funny,” she explained. “But we did see the humor. We understood that it was humorous, but we didn’t plan it for the humor and we didn’t really expect anyone to be laughing.”
Kazan couldn’t help but laugh when she recalled one particularly hilarious scene with Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin). “When Andrea and I were in the bedroom in preparation for the wedding, she started plucking the hair out of my chin,” Kazan said of the memorable moment. “That wasn’t in the script, and we were hysterical. We almost lost it. We had a great deal of fun. We really did.”
As for her favorite line in the film, Kazan recited the advice she gave to Toula when Toula’s father, Gus (Michael Constantine) dismissed his daughter’s dream of going to college: “The man is the head, but the woman is the neck, and she can turn the head any way she wants,” she said.
Kazan is not one to believe that men are always in charge. “I think that women rule the household, even when they’re not entitled to because of their so-called position in the family,” she told the outlet. “Women rule with an iron hand and really set the rules for the family.”
The film’s success was unexpected, to say the least. “It was a little movie. It was small, it was a jewel,” the actress concluded. “When we made so much money that first weekend, we were all shocked. And it kept going and going and going. We were on the charts for I don’t know how many weeks, but it was a lot of weeks. It was just a shock and a thrill and a joy.”