The blue carpet was packed with stars including writer, executive producer and actress Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Elena Kampouris, Lainie Kazan, Michael Constantine and Andrea Martin to name a few, acting like one big, Greek family at the New York premiere of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 on March 15.
The Knot attended the premiere at AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 theater where producers Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks, who celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in 2013, divulged how Wilson discovered Vardalos, her My Big Fat Greek Wedding script, and launched the film to its current cult-like popularity.
“It’s like the family is together,” Wilson said of being at the My Big Fat Greek Wedding sequel’s showing some 14 years after the film’s initial release. “The cast on screen. The family is together behind the screen too which is really great.” But it was Nia Vardalos’ brain child, a one woman play of the same name which made it to the big screen, that Wilson and Hanks were really celebrating.
“Nia drove this thing. Nia wrote it. It didn’t come about until Nia found something organic in her head. Our job is just to make it a reality,” Hanks said of the star who not only wrote the script, but also stars as the Greek-American Toula Portokalos.
Wilson and Hanks not only thrill with their acting chops, the powerhouse couple produced the both Greek films along with the ABBA driven Mama Mia musical starring Meryl Streep saying, “It’s not our first stop at the rodeo.”
While strolling the blue carpet the couple reminisced about the early stages of the first My Big Fat Greek Wedding film with Hanks telling reporters, “My wife saw an ad back in the day in the LA Times calendar section for a one woman show called My Big Fat Greek Wedding and she laughed and said ‘I’m going to go see the show,’ and she did.”
“She came home and said ‘I think that’s a movie,’ and it was,” he added.
When asked how Vardalos’ reacted when Wilson called her about making the play into a movie the producer recalled, “I didn’t pick up the phone. I told her right then and there. I went to see the play. I asked to meet her after the play. I said to her, ‘I love you’ – gave her a big hug – ‘this would make an amazing movie.’ She said, ‘I have a script.’”
“I might have gone home with a script that night,” Wilson said, “I can’t remember.”
“I just thought it was worth it,” Wilson told reporters. “I produced another production of the play for her, but at the same time we were just in negotiations trying to make this movie…I didn’t know, as you don’t know, that other people would respond to it the way that they did and see themselves in this family, or their own families in this film.” But they certainly did and still do!
The long-lasting Hollywood couple chatted about the first My Big Fat Greek Wedding theatrical release in April 2002 and its competition with M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs. When the film started gaining popularity in the theaters Wilson said she “felt like a kid in a candy store,” adding, “We just could not believe that it was inching its way up.”
“It felt like complete, crazy good fortune. It was wonderful to have somebody who was unknown to the public have this amazing thing happen. That she [Vardalos] wrote and that we were able to say this is who we want to star in the movie,” Wilson said of My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Vardalos’ initial fame as its writer and star.
After talking about Vardalos’ start, Hanks commented about his wife’s acting past and her appearance on the Brady Bunch saying, “Oh, every now and again I just pull it up in Youtube. All of the stuff that she was in. I was actually at a friend of mine’s house when that aired and remember thinking that that girl is cute.” Way to spot the potential (on both accounts) Mr. Hanks!
As for the stars of the show, Corbett (Ian Miller) and Vardalos spend time together regularly. “We know each other so well. I see Nia 3-4 times a year…She has a 24 hour Easter Egg hunt at her house” Corbett told reporters, adding that he also attends her 24 hour Halloween party because, “No one loves Halloween more than Nia.”
Candidly sharing with reporters that Vardalos has “a huge house,” Corbett explained that at the 24 hour Easter Egg Hunt, “You get to stay overnight and get to drink as much Ouzo and Whiskey as you want. There are plastic eggs with little surprises in them. You can go in any drawer anywhere you want. There’s no off limits. And the yard. Everything. She’s got about 4 acres, so you’re outside a lot.” Yeah, we’d make time for that too.
The Knot also caught up with stars Michael Constantine (Toula’s father Gus Portokalos), Louis Mandylor (Toula’s brother Nick Portokalos), and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2’s director Kirk Jones on the blue carpet and spoke about their favorite Greek traditions.
“Do they smash plates in Greek weddings for real?” the film’s director Jones asked, citing plate smashing as his top Greek wedding tradition. “I guess they do…I was in a restaurant once where people started throwing plates and smashing them and it was pretty fun.”
“My favorite Greek wedding tradition is when the wedding is over.” Constantine told The Knot, “because Greek weddings last each one last a week with three priests.” Agreeing with his on-screen father Mandylor chimed in, “It’s true! It’s like a Greek goodbye! It starts at the dinner table, then the front door and then the car…”
Offering their advice for those attending Greek weddings, Jones told The Knot, “I would say drink lots and be prepared for a very loud, crazy, noisy day,” while Mandylor proposed you should, “Eat before you get there” and “get a lot of sleep.”
When the elder Portokalos actor started dancing in the midst of giving advice Mandylor shared with The Knot, “We dealt with this every day on set. He wouldn’t say his lines. He wouldn’t do anything they asked. He just DANCED” to which Constantine provided the best Greek wedding prep yet, saying, “Yes, that’s all I cared. All Greeks care about are dancing and eating! That’s all we care about.”