After ten years of marriage and multiple projects together, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon are still very much in love. They finish each other’s sentences, have similar thoughts and opinions, and have no trouble cutting off each other’s answers. When we get the opportunity to interview the pair during a recent press day in Toronto for their critically acclaimed Film The Big Sick, they are sitting together on a couch that could seat three comfortably. But with how close they are sitting together, there’s no room for a third.
The semi-autobiographical Film revolves around the relationship between Kumail (Nanjiani) and Emily (Zoe Kazan). They are happily dating, but Kumail is harbouring a secret — his strict Muslim parents are keen on him entering into an arranged marriage with a Muslim woman. Emily has very little time to process this news, as she lands in the hospital with a severe lung infection. This emergency only gets worse, leading Kumail to rethink everything about their relationship and his relationship with his parents.
Despite having iconic Comedy Producer Judd Apatow on-board from the beginning, the writing process was anything but easy. The pair would bring drafts of their screenplay to Apatow for approval, and he “would rip it to shreds and send us off on our way,” says Gordon. “And then after three years, he was like ‘Okay, I think we can get a director now’.” When asked about how much of the Film’s story happened in real life, the pair laugh and give different answers. Gordon settled the debate quickly – claiming the Film being 60% factual. “The broad strokes are pretty accurate to what happened,” Nanjiani says. “But the specifics and some of the characterizations and the order of events, that’s the stuff we changed.”
Having lived the events of the Film, Nanjiani and Gordon recalled certain moments in their lives quite differently. “In doing press, I found out that our relationship before I got sick was way more casual than I thought. That’s something I’ve been discovering that’s been super fun,” Gordon mentions. “I don’t regret saying it all,” Nanjiani says with a laugh. “Every time we found in writing this that we would have a disagreement about how we experienced some from our past. We tried to fold both perspectives into the Movie.” While their emotions would range from “That was a really happy memory” to “No that was a horrible memory”, Nanjiani was quite happy with the end result it had on the screenplay: “I think it made for a much more complicated dynamic between the main characters.”
While the appreciation and gratitude for Apatow was evident throughout our conversation (“We’d never written a movie before and Judd getting behind us and helping us through this has been very exciting” Nanjiani says), the pair also praised the Film’s female lead, Kazan. Gordon explains that after watching her audition, she felt “she was absolutely right for the part. I don’t really know what would have happened if I really wanted her and other people didn’t.” Nanjiani adds, “She has that really fun, funny side, but she’s also a very, very serious person who takes herself serious.”
For all of the enthusiasm the pair shared about the writing and casting process, both Nanjiani and Gordon were more apathetic when asked about the Film’s take on religion and culture. “We didn’t think that we really wanted to say anything with this Movie. We just wanted to tell our story,” Nanjiani explains. “If we’re writing a personal story that’s about us and [religion] is something that is part of that story, not having it in there just felt disingenuous.” Gordon was a little more direct in how she felt: “It’s just another aspect of the story.”
Religious and cultural apprehensions aside, the pair are satisfied with all of the work that went into making The Big Sick. “We wrote this Movie for three years with no money, no plan, no guarantee that it would ever become a thing. And we worked our asses off,” Gordon says. “It was really, really great to make a movie where we could pour in everything that we think about,” Nanjiani mentions. “It’s pretty great to be a part of a Movie where we can be proud of every character.” And if the spectacular limited US box office results from this past weekend are any indication, The Big Sick may just become the breakout Comedy of the summer.
Elevation Pictures release THE BIG SICK in select theatres starting Friday, June 30, 2017 and across Canada on Friday, July 14, 2017.
Judd Apatow never disappoints us. To be honest, we aren’t v. familiar with the work of Comedienne Amy Schumer, but once glance at this and we’re already a Fan! A brand new Trailer for what could be the Rom-Com of Summer ’15 – TRAINWRECK – has just surfaced. Apatow helms and we are happy to see SNL Alumni BillHader getting that Leading Man status he deserves.
A magazine writer (Amy Schumer) who was raised to believe that monogamy isn’t realistic finds herself falling for the subject of the article she’s writing, a successful sports doctor (Bill Hader).
See the Trailer:
Universal Pictures Canada release TRAINWRECK on Friday, July 17, 2015.
Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Girls, Bridesmaids, Freaks and Geeks, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Superbad. These are just some of the many culturally-impacting Titles which just wouldn’t have been without the talents of Judd Apatow. Toronto was extremely fortunate last night to have welcomed the brilliant Director/Producer/Writer and fantastically-funny Actress and Wife, Leslie Mann. Although their Oscar-contending Comedy This is 40 which re-teams the Duo once again, isn’t in theatres just yet, Apatow and Mann came to create a bit of buzz for the Film which is being touted not so much as a Sequel, but more a Continuation to 2007’s Knocked Up, where we first were introduced to the Characters of Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Mann).
With Opening Remarks from Canadian Comedy Legend Eugene Levy and the Evening hosted by Author/Critic and Television Personality Richard Crouse, the Canadian Film Centre‘s An Evening with Judd Apatow & Leslie Mann took place at the TIFF Bell Lightbox – an Invite-Only Affair where we got to witness in-person the charming romantic and working Chemistry between Husband and Wife. Crouse asked the Couple how they first met and apparently it wasn’t love at first sight between the two.
Watch them tell their Story below:
Hilariously, Apatow was unable to suppress his iPhone-obsession, repeatedly checking it and even taking a Call onstage from his Daughter Maude (who stars in This is 40), bringing her great embarrassment after she was told that we could all hear her amplified through the Speakers. Finally, Mann addressed the matter by telling Apatow that he was being rude, prompting him to put-away his phone.
We learned that despite the outcome being humorous usually with Apatow‘s Work, rarely does he approach filming thinking a particular scene is going to be funny. His Motto always is to present the truth and in doing so can we see the real humour in things, praising Mann especially for her uncanny ability to dig-deep in her performances.
Interestingly, the topic of Music was brought-up with it being revealed that Crouse at the age of 16 had written a Book about The Rolling Stones. Apatow told the Audience that at one point both Ben Stiller and himself had been close to collaborating with the Band on a Film and while Fanboy-ing with Stiller over their records in one room during their rehearsals here in Toronto, Mick Jagger had walked-in on them in an unforgettable moment asking, “Are you alright? Would you like some Water or anything?”. We learned also that Mann rather dislikes Live Versions of songs and is a huge Fan of Pop Music including the likes of Lady Gaga and Aretha Franklin.
Earlier in the evening, I was lucky enough to get a Snap with both Apatow and Mann who were extremely gracious. To enter to win a Signed Photo from Apatow, simply click “like” on this Post at Mr. Will Wong on Facebook before January 1, 2013. Good luck.
Universal Pictures releases This is 40 on December 21, 2012. Although I only had the chance to see a couple Clips, I can say that I was dying of laughter already! Cannot wait.
Girls! Girls! Girls! Toronto cannot get enough of them! Star of HBO’s Breakout Hit Girls, Allison Williams, will be visitng Toronto on December 4, 2012 to promote both the upcoming second Season of the Lena Dunham-created Series, and also the release of its first Season on DVD on December 11, 2012. Judd Apatow who also serves as Executive Producer on that Series, coincidentally will be in the City next Monday to promote his Oscar Contender, This is 40 along with Wife and Star, Leslie Mann.
Williams who is the Daughter of NBC Anchor, Brian Williams and also a Graduate of Yale and former Miss West Virginia, stars as Marnie in the Series and is scheduled to do a variety of Press and also an In-Conversation-With hosted by our beloved Friend Shinan Govani, in the east-end of the City during her Visit. I definitely will be there to bring Highlights of the Evening and couldn’t be more thrilled with the Series rapidly becoming a personal Fave!
In supporting of their upcoming Oscar-contending Comedy This is 40, brilliant Comedy Powerhouse Judd Apatow and amazingly-talented Actress/Wife Leslie Mann will be making a Visit to Toronto on Monday, November 26, 2012. The Power-Couple will be appearing at an Evening of Conversation organized by the Canadian Film Centre, along with Partners Variety, Telefilm Canada, Just for Laughs and Universal Pictures.
This is 40 follows the lives of Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Mann), whom we got to know and love in Knocked Up. Also starring in the eagerly-awaited Comedy is a superb Supporting Cast which includes: Lena Dunham, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, Albert Brooks, Megan Fox, Jason Segel and John Lithgow.
Watch the Trailer in full below:
Universal Pictures releases This is 40 on December 21, 2012.