June 02, 2017
Based on the real-life courtship between comedians Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, “The Big Sick” is a film that promises to upset grumpy, racist grandpas everywhere.
Produced by comedy godfather Judd Apatow and co-written by Nanjiani (of “Silicon Valley” fame) and writer/producer Gordon, the movie tells the story of Pakistan-born Kumail who connects with grad student Emily, after one of his stand-up comedy sets in Chicago.
What would ordinarily be a one-night stand between Kumail and Emily blossoms into real romance, and life gets complicated when Emily falls ill with a mysterious illness, and Kumail meets her parents for the first time in the hospital. It forces Kumail to navigate the medical crisis with Emily's parents while dealing with the emotional tug-of-war between his family and his heart.
All five actors (with the exception of Kazan) came to Philly this week to promote the show and sat down with PhillyVoice for one-on-one interviews.
“It really happened to us. We met at a comedy show [in Chicago]. I was performing and she heckled me,” said a smiling Nanjiani.
“It was a story we hoped would have resonance with other people and it’s a lot about love and about family, so we were hoping other people would relate to it as well, so that’s how we came up with the idea of making it into a movie,” said Gordon.
“If you can get Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, you take Holly Hunter and Ray Romano! We were very lucky to have gotten them. We felt it was just a very specific story that, about five years ago, we started discussing it and then when we met with Judd [Apatow] that’s when it really snowballed from there and we started thinking about it as an actual story and not just ‘our’ story.”
“I’m a distraught father who’s worried about his daughter, and also meeting this gentleman for the first time, and there’s a bit of – not a culture clash – but a clash of – who is this guy and what’s he doing with my daughter? And the relationship grows, and, I won’t give away the ending, but, everybody dies,” he laughed.
“But, of course…I have a daughter who is roughly the same age as Zoe…so I identified with the torture and angst of seeing her ill. My daughter is also dating, and so that’s torture and angst also. So, yea, my relationship with my wife, played by Holly Hunter, is a little bit strained, and I can identify with that – not in the same way. They go through some heavy stuff. I’ve been married for 29 years. We’ve been through everything.”
“Whenever something is made to have an agenda, you can sort of smell it,” said Nanjiani.
“I think people are very savvy watchers of TV and movies these days, and if something is really trying to have a message, people immediately catch that. So, for our movie, our intention was never to deliver a social or moral message, but we do hope that people can watch and draw their own conclusions, and if people can think differently after watching the movie, that’s great, but that’s not really what we intended to do.”
Braunohler added: “It’s about familial love and how you balance your family versus someone you’re truly in love with.”