My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is in theaters today, so it might be a good time to talk about the phenomena that was Nia Vardalos’ 2002 movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It was shot on a budget of only $5 million, but blossomed into the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time. Will the sequel do as well? Only time will tell, but here’s some things you should know about the original.
1. IT BEGAN LIFE AS A STAGE SHOW IN LOS ANGELES.
In 1997, Second City alum Nia Vardalos wrote and performed a one-woman show about her Greek family. "I basically took every Greek wedding I’ve ever been to, including mine, and on a scale of one to 10, I turned it up to an 11," Vardalos said. Los Angeles' Hudson Theater over-sold the six-week run of the show after Vardalos sent flyers to every Greek church in Southern California. Rita Wilson, who is also Greek, attended one of the performances; she went backstage after the show and told Vardalos that it should be made into a movie. One week later, Wilson's husband, Tom Hanks, attended a performance.
3. DISNEY WANTED MARISA TOMEI TO STAR.
Before Hanks' call, several production companies expressed interest in purchasing the rights to Vardalos' project. One wanted to turn it into a story about a Hispanic family. Disney was interested in buying the story as is, but wanted Marisa Tomei to star in it. Hanks and his production company, Playtone, saw Vardalos playing herself.