Emily Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani’s story is one of the most beautiful and touching stories, and the world gets the honor of seeing it on screen. HollywoodLife.com spoke exclusively with Emily about writing a film about her own life, her husband, and discovering the ‘magical energy’ the cast brought.
The Big Sick is a romantic comedy written by Emily Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, documenting their-real life, very different relationship. His traditional Pakistani Muslim family is not happy when they find out he is in love with Emily, a white woman. However, when Emily gets diagnosed with a mysterious illness, Kumail puts all else on hold to help her, and get to know her family, who he couldn’t be more different from. HollywoodLife.com spoke exclusively with Emily, 37, about how the film came together years ago, and why she didn’t actually go to the auditions when they were searching for the on-screen version of herself.
Why tell the story now?
EMILY: We started the writing process about five years ago, spent about three years working on drafts with Judd Apatow and Barry Mendel. Every few months, I wasn’t sure if it was going to see the light of day. This is just when it happened from a process that happened in 2012.
Did you realize the storyline would be so relevant?
EMILY: I’ve been to screenings of the movie both before and after the election. There are definitely scenes that play differently before the election. We never set out to write a political movie. We never set out to tell a story that would have a huge resonance in our political times. We didn’t know what was going to come out, but it is interesting that it is playing differently now. We’re just trying to tell a small, personal, love story.
Did you always plan on Kumail playing himself?
EMILY: Yeah, that was always the thought. It was also one of those things: If you’re not getting offered roles, you might as well write yourself one.
Did you consider acting in it?
EMILY: Not at all. I’m not an actress. I could have tanked this whole thing. I’m very happy with what Zoe did.
What was it like casting Zoe Kazan to play you?
EMILY: We had auditions for many, many actresses, and I didn’t go to the auditions because I thought that might be kind of weird for the actresses, but I watched the tape. We all had the same decision, unanimously, obviously it was Zoe. She came in and brought this magical energy to it. She took what was on the page and created this wonderful version of Emily. When I watched at first, I’m like, ‘Oh what have I done? I’ve done something weird haven’t I?’ I had a momentary like freak out, thinking I’ve kind of opened myself up for some weird, insecure feelings.
HollywoodLifers, will you see The Big Sick? It’s in select theaters now, and goes wide on July 14.