Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon on ‘The Big Sick’ and Their Love of ‘Shaun of the Dead’

     July 10, 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 got to sit down with Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon to talk about the positive reaction to the film, how they were able to get a Shaun of the Dead and The Thing poster in the film, their love of Four Weddings and a Funeral, why they watched some bad rom-coms before filming, if they’ve ever met Hugh Grant, what they learned while editing the film, and a lot more.

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.

Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V Gordon:

  • Have they met anyone who did not enjoy the movie?
  • How hard was it to get the Shaun of the Dead poster in the film?
  • How did they get The Thing poster in the film?
  • How hard is it to cast someone to play yourself?
  • Their love of Four Weddings and a Funeral and how they watched it on their wedding day.
  • How they watched some rom coms that didn’t work to make sure they didn’t do that with their film.
  • Have they ever met Hugh Grant?
  • How involved were they in the editing room and what was cut out?

Here’s the official synopsis for The Big Sick:

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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