Nia Vardalos couldn’t resist adding a shout-out to her fellow Canadians in her new movie, My Life in Ruins.
“Once a Canadian, always a Canadian,” quipped the Winnipeg-born writer-actress, whose 2002 debut My Big Fat Greek Wedding came out of nowhere to earn more than $241 million US.
In the romcom My Life in Ruins, Vardalos plays a Greek-American college prof who retreats to Athens to work as a tour guide to find her lost kefi — Greek for mojo.
Over the phone from her Los Angeles home, Vardalos says one exchange she penned for the movie was inspired by a scenario she faced a lot when she first moved to California: Americans consider Canada to be the 51st state, something that’s guaranteed to rile any True North resident.
Ever a polite Canuck, the 46-year-old refused to take a screenwriting credit on My Life in Ruins.
“I asked permission from the writer (The Simpsons Movie’s Mike Reiss) to add the Canadian stuff, but I didn’t want a credit. That’s gross,” says Vardalos, sounding appalled at the mere suggestion.
Such is the down-to-earth style that made moviegoers fall for Vardalos’s autobiographical tale of her wedding to a non-Greek. (She and spouse Ian Gomez wed in 1993.)
Vardalos was on top of the world when Greek Wedding hit it big, the culmination of a Hollywood fairy tale that began with actor-spouses Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson investing in the project, which was based on a stage show written by Vardalos. Nominations for an Oscar and a Golden Globe followed.
(Hanks and Wilson are back on board for My Life in Ruins. Wilson also has a small role.)
Things then got bumpy for Vardalos. A 2003 TV show based on the movie lasted only a handful of episodes. Connie and Carla, a Vardalos penned Some Like It Hot-style gals-on-the-run flick, co-starring Toni Collette, did mediocre box office and got lukewarm reviews.
Vardalos all but disappeared. “I lost my mojo for a while, yeah,” she says. “I was very clear. I chose to step back and grieve a personal situation of being at the end of a 10-year fertility battle.”
Vardalos talks quickly and pointedly; she’s obviously made the speech to reporters before. The message comes through clearly: she’ll offer a bit of information, nothing more. “It was happening to me at 32. All during the success of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, it was this.”
She politely refuses to say if she and Gomez tried in vitro fertilization or fertility drugs. Last year they did start a family, when the couple adopted a three-year-old daughter. Although Vardalos won’t allow the child to be photographed or her name made public, “I do understand all this happened to me so that I could use my big mouth to talk about foster adoption,” she quips.
– My Life in Ruins hits theatres tomorrow
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