At the end of the day, what matters most is family.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is the long-awaited follow-up to the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time and shows that with a well-crafted and highly entertaining sequel, it’s great revisiting old friends and taking another journey through their respective lives.
Audiences worldwide embraced the immensely relatable characters, seeing their own families reflected in the adorably brash and bold Portokalos clan members.
It is not only a great story about family, but an endearing story about how our lives are changed by those we love and care about if only we allow them the opportunity to do so.
Written by Academy Award nominee Nia Vardalos, who stars alongside the entire returning cast, the film reveals a Portokalos family secret that will bring the beloved characters back together for an even bigger and Greeker wedding.
When she wrote the play My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which she also starred in, there were two eager fans sitting in the audience, Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson.
Hanks and Wilson visited Vardalos backstage and showed interest in producing a film based on the play. Vardalos was one step ahead of them and handed them the screenplay. The rest is history.
Now, Hanks and Wilson return as producers, as well as producer Gary Goetzman, and Executive Producers Paul Brooks and Steven Shareshian alongside Scott Niemeyer and Vardalos.
This clearly proves that if you as a screenwriter have a story investors believe in, nothing is impossible.
When news of the sequel broke, fans were ecstatic.
In her characteristic fashion, Vardalos wrote on Twitter: “Now that I’m experiencing motherhood I feel ready to write this next chapter. A few jaded folks will claim I ran out of money or want to kiss John Corbett again. One of these things is true.”
Over the course of the first film’s many successes, Vardalos was privately struggling to become a parent.
In April 2013, she went public in her New York Times bestseller “Instant Mom,” chronicling how she met and adopted her three-year-old daughter, Ilaria, via foster care…with only 14 hours’ notice.
Since she had waited a decade to become a parent, Vardalos had thrown herself into every aspect of the joys of motherhood when her daughter came along. She explains: “I tried to do it all—from finely chopping GMO-free vegetables for daily homemade soups, to signing up repeatedly to be the pre-school room parent.”
On the first day of her daughter’s kindergarten, another mom remarked: “In 13 years, they’ll go to college and move away from home.” It was then and there Vardalos got the idea for the next chapter in Toula and her family’s life. Vardalos laughs: “I was struck by such panic and fear at this thought that I realized I had morphed into my own overbearing, bordering-on-suffocating, Greek parents.”
In Vardalos’ script the story jumps forward 10 years since the last moment we saw the Portokalos family.
Toula and Ian have been married a long time and, as is typical, their relationship has lost some of its spark. Like most mothers of teens, Toula is at odds with her daughter and trying to find time for herself and her relationship with her husband.
Just like Toula is to her parents, Paris is everything to Toula and Ian. They wonder if they have to let the 17-year-old grow up and make her own choices and not smother her with every family tradition and their own expectations of who she should be. Still, much like Toula, Paris is not content to be relegated to everyone’s thoughts of what constitutes a good Greek girl. She is grappling with her family’s big expectations of her…and the dreams she has for herself.
Toula’s parents, Gus and Maria, are now proud grandparents and asking themselves the same question every couple faces—where did the romance go? Yes, to Gus, Windex still cures everything.
Now, Ian and Toula are struggling with some of the same issues her parents faced in the first film: How do you love and still let go?
Vardalos never considered crafting a sequel without the entire original family on board. Michael Constantine, who plays patriarch Gus, says: “It was wonderful being back together again…It was a big family reunion.”
Although some of the cast have enjoyed many long lunches and dinners over the years, they hadn’t all been together since production wrapped on the first comedy. The table read on May 7, 2015, was an emotional day; the cast arrived, hugged and cried happy tears.
After the table read, lunch was served (of course!), then it was a long process to get everyone into vans for the first rehearsal. The cast was surprised to see that they’d arrived for rehearsal at the original Portokalos family home…and that production was able to secure the entire street of houses.
Vardalos noticed: “It was funny watching Kirk Jones(Nanny McPhee, Waking Ned Devine) , our reserved British director, take on this boisterous, raucous, ethnic cast. No one heard him say anything because we all talk. A lot. And we’re loud.”
From Greek to non-Greek on the set, everyone involved loved bringing this story to the screen. It was lensed in the same locations as the first film, making all feel like they were back in Chicago again.
The entire My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 cast and crew always focused on one maxim that audiences have embraced and championed since the first film: At the end of the day, what matters most is family.
So much so that at the end of production, Corbett put his arm around Vardalos and said, “Let’s do it again, baby!”