Michael Showalter on Directing ‘The Big Sick’ and ‘Search Party’s Three-Year Plan

     July 3, 2017

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At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, one of the biggest deals was Amazon Pictures acquiring director Michael Showalter’s The Big Sick for $12 million. While at the festival I’d heard the incredible buzz around the film but after attending Sundance for almost a decade, I’d seen first-hand how the initial reaction to a film can become more subdued after more people get to see it. I’m not sure if it’s the festival air, or being part of the first group to see a film, but sometimes the initial reactions are way off base.

This is not one of those times.

the-big-sick-posterIf you haven’t heard of the film, The Big Sick is based on the true story of actor/comedian Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) and writer/producer Emily V. Gordon’s unique courtship, with Nanjiani playing himself in the film while Zoe Kazan fills the role of his girlfriend. After the two strike up a relationship, Emily discovers Kumail’s family is deeply invested in an arranged marriage with someone of Pakistani decent. They break up, but Emily then gets a serious, mysterious illness and falls into a coma. Kumail then stays by her side while forging an awkward relationship with Emily’s parents, played in the film by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter. Loaded with a great script, fantastic performances and an original story, I can’t recommend The Big Sick enough. For more on the film read Matt Goldberg’s review.

With The Big Sick now playing in limited release this weekend and expanding nationwide July 14th, the other day I sat down with Michael Showalter. He talked about how he got involved in the project, the way the script changed, how the film doesn’t follow the typical romantic comedy rules, his first cut, what they learned from early screening which impacted the finished film, and more. In addition, since Showalter created Search Party (a very funny show airing on TBS), I asked what fans can expect on season 2 and he also revealed they have a three year plan for the show.  

Check out what Michael Showalter had to say in the player above and below is what we talked about followed by the official synopsis and some images.

Michael Showalter:

  • How did he get involved in the film?
  • How did the script change once he got involved?
  • the-big-sick-kumail-nanjiani

    Image via Lionsgate

    How the film doesn’t follow the typical romantic comedy rules.

  • How long was his first cut compared to the finished film?
  • Who did he invite to early screenings for honest feedback?
  • Any big changes as a result from early screenings?
  • Search Party season 2 talk and how the plan is for the show to run three seasons.

The Big Sick synopsis:

Based on the real-life courtship between Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, THE BIG SICK tells the story of Pakistan-born aspiring comedian Kumail (Nanjiani), who connects with grad student Emily (Kazan) after one of his standup sets. However, what they thought would be just a one-night stand blossoms into the real thing, which complicates the life that is expected of Kumail by his traditional Muslim parents. When Emily is beset with a mystery illness, it forces Kumail to navigate the medical crisis with her parents, Beth and Terry (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano) who he’s never met, while dealing with the emotional tug-of-war between his family and his heart.  THE BIG SICK is directed by Michael Showalter (HELLO MY NAME IS DORIS) and produced by Judd Apatow (TRAINWRECK, THIS IS 40) and Barry Mendel (TRAINWRECK, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS).

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