Holly Hunter and Zoe Kazan on Making ‘The Big Sick’

     July 7, 2017

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.

If 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.

the-big-sick-posterWith The Big Sick now playing in limited release and expanding nationwide July 14th, I recently sat down with Holly Hunter and Zoe Kazan. They talked about how they got involved in the project, finding the emotional honesty of a scene, how the script was being worked on for years, the importance of thanking your editor, and more. In addition, Holly Hunter reveals she’s about halfway done recording her dialogue on Brad Bird’s The Incredibles 2.

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

Holly Hunter and Zoe Kazan:

  • What is the secret to playing a good coma patient?
  • Their reaction when reading the script and they talk about the incredible story.
  • The emotional honesty of a scene and how do you know when you’ve hit the right note.
  • The editing process.
  • Holly Hunter says she has started recording The Incredibles 2.

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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