Nearly 14 years after the original surprised the box office in 2002, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” premiered Tuesday evening in New York at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square — and the extended Portokalos-Miller family buzzed with anticipation to watch, laugh and celebrate.
Before the screening, cast members and creators arrived for the premiere, among them Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, who are producers on the original and the sequel. But this time around, Wilson also has an acting credit (we meet her at church with her husband, played by John Stamos), and she performs a song in the closing credits called “Even More Mine,” which she co-wrote with Nathan Chapman and Darrell Brown.
As veteran romantic comedy actors, Hanks and Wilson shared their thoughts on the genre. “I don’t think [rom-coms] work unless they accurately reflect behavior that people recognize,” Hanks said, adding that “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” juxtaposes humor with relatable challenges, like keeping the spark alive in a committed relationship. “That’s what Nia and John’s characters go through — it’s hilarious, but at the same time it’s a pain.”
Wilson thought of a conversation that she once had with Nora Ephron. “I asked Nora ‘Romantic comedies are fantastic — why aren’t there more of them?’ And she said ‘Well, they’re really hard to write,’” Wilson recalled. “And I think that’s true. They’re just hard to make funny, make romantic and have all of those elements come together in a really believable way.” Then, turning to Hanks, “So I think we’ve been lucky to be in some really good ones.”
Dressed in a long, red gown, multi-hyphenate Nia Vardalos said that, for the sequel to her Oscar-nominated screenplay, she set out with a simple, but personal message. “No matter what generation you are, no one’s going to give you what you want unless you ask for it — unless you say ‘This is what I want out of life.’” She added that the message was inspired by her daughter. “When I wanted to be a mom, and it wasn’t happening for me, I reached out and I found out about American foster care, and that’s the reason that I even wrote this script.”
Once the script was written, getting the family back together was a relatively simple task, according to costar John Corbett, who said it took “one phone call from Nia on my birthday two years ago” to convince him to come back onboard. “She could have sent a registered letter, and it still would have been ‘Yes,’” he joked.
Other members of the cast that arrived at the premiere included returning members Michael Constantine, Lainie Kazan, Gia Carides, Joey Fatone, Louis Mandylor and Andrea Martin, as well as newcomers Elena Kampouris (Vardalos and Corbett’s characters’ daughter in the film) and Alex Wolff (who mingled alongside his brother Nat at the after party).
Director Kirk Jones said that, apart from wrangling the large ensemble cast, his job was a simpler one than he anticipated. “I had never made a sequel before, but I had underestimated how much of an advantage it was to work with a group of people who knew each other, loved and respected each other, and already knew their characters.”
After a while, it seemed like the cast and creative team would file into the theater, but apparently not before stopping to take group photographs in the lobby. Hanks photographed Wilson with Vardalos, and joked loudly about missing Stamos, who was missing from the occasion. Minutes before the film started rolling, Hanks stopped to grab a popcorn and soda to the delight of the concessions staff who literally screamed and jumped up and down for the Hollywood favorite.
Following the screening, the party moved a few blocks away to the Parkview Lounge where guests posed at a photo booth sponsored by Windex (the product is a running joke in both films), and wined and dined to the beat of a live DJ. The hors d’oeuvres and buffet selection included pita and hummus, Greek salad, potatoes, kebabs and baklava — an aptly impressive spread for a warm-hearted and long-time-coming celebration.