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Nia Vardalos

Writer-actress

On the state of things: Well, I got pretty lucky that my film (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding”) was approached as an independent film. I truly believe that if it had been done at a studio, I would have been bumped off it as quickly as possible, they would have attached a rewriter, and I would have been the eighth bridesmaid from the left by the time they were done with it. It was a big gamble for me to walk out of those offices, shake everybody’s hands and say, “Thanks very much, but I’m going to try to write this on my own and I would like to play the lead.” It was lucky for me that Playtone came along. They were willing to take a risk on an unknown screenwriter and an unknown star.

Recipes for change: The audience is responding to my movie for some reason. It’s not the most brilliant piece of comedy ever written or performed, so what is it? Is it that it’s not the typical Hollywood formulaic movie? Is it that they’re relating to a not-standardly unattainable female lead? So maybe that would be my only advice; there are other stories to be told. I wouldn’t ever be arrogant enough to say that yes it needs help, and this is what to do, because I’m brand new in it.

I was treated as if my opinion counted. It really was surprising to me. Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks’ partner, mentored me through this whole thing, and they never made me feel stupid. Now I realize how naive my first questions were. So many times I would say something and wait for Tom Hanks to say, “Could you just shut up and go back to Winnipeg?” He would nod his head instead and say, “Hey, that’s a good idea.” And I would think inside, “Wow, I guess it is.”

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