The former Winnipegger who wrote and starred in one of the highest-grossing independent films of all time is celebrating the movie’s big fat anniversary.
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding” marked its 20th birthday on April 19.
Nia Vardalos, who grew up in Winnipeg, wrote and starred in the sleeper hit loosely based on her large Greek family and her experience marrying a non-Greek man.
In a series of tweets, Vardalos recalled the challenges of getting the film made. She said agents and managers said the script wasn’t good and that ‘actors shouldn’t write.’
“I recall wondering why they were angry. They fired me. So, I changed the material into a solo stage show. Rita Wilson saw the play and said, ‘this should be a movie,’” Vardalos wrote.
#MyBigFatGreekWedding is 20 today. 🎂 When agents/managers said my script wasn’t good and actors shouldn’t write, I recall wondering why they were angry. They fired me. So, I changed the material into a solo stage show. @RitaWilson saw the play and said, ‘this should be a
– Nia Vardalos (@NiaVardalos) April 19, 2022
Vardalos gave Wilson her screenplay, and the two were able to get it produced with Vardalos in the lead role.
Vardalos recalled it opening initially in only 106 theatres, only for it to keep expanding. It ultimately ran for a year.
“People full of love loved it, and again some were snide, hateful,” she said.
Wilson also reflected on the movie’s anniversary, tweeting a photo from the premiere.
“This movie brought so much joy to so many! I’m so proud of the film and Nia Vardalos for her screenplay, humor and comedy chops!!! Thank you ALL for supporting this movie. We are so grateful,” Wilson tweeted.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding!! Twenty years ago! Premiere!!! This movie brought so much joy to so many! I’m so proud of the film and @NiaVardalos for her screenplay, humor and comedy chops!!! Thank you ALL for supporting this movie. We are so grateful!!!! pic.twitter.com/4KOcDi3erL
— Rita Wilson (@RitaWilson) April 20, 2022
Vardalos said the movie led to more film work, gave her the ability to employ hundreds of people, and to write a play and best-selling book.
Through it all, Vardalos said she learned the importance of telling your own story.
“Some people who don’t create anything including jobs to make situations better, will tell you that what you do is wrong. You can’t make anyone embrace change, marginalized voices or new ideas. So love yourself. And write your story,” she tweeted.