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December 5, 2017

Approaching The Big Sick—a dramatic comedy based on the life experiences of writers Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon—Oscar winner Holly Hunter was happy to return to the comedy realm, and found herself compelled by an “openness” about the entire endeavor.

In the film, Hunter plays Gordon’s real-life mother, who is confronted by the sudden, life-threatening illness of her daughter (Zoe Kazan), and subsequently, by her daughter’s very persistent ex-boyfriend (Nanjiani), who insists on sticking around the hospital until she’s well.

Gordon and Nanjiani had written Gordon’s mother and father loosely, liberating Hunter and Ray Romano from the need to do an impression, and allowing them to operate from the imagination. In Hunter’s mind, The Big Sick is a perfect movie for our times, an invitation to discuss race and the continuing necessity of to.

In her words, the comedy “carries a big stick, but doesn’t know it.”

What was your initial impression, reading the script for The Big Sick? What aspects of this project were attractive?

It was an interesting script because the script felt like it was open to lots of possibilities. There was an openness to the script, and I also think there was an openness to how the offer was structured. Barry Mendel, one of the producers who is a frequent collaborator with Judd Apatow, they presented it as an opportunity for a really intense collaboration, and they meant it.

It was a truly collaborative process. They walked the walk. Whatever it was that they promised, they came through on, and I think that also is a testament to the confidence of both Kumail and Emily Gordon, as writers, that they allowed us to come in and really work through scenes, and rehearse. The rehearsal period was a long one for this, and a really detailed one. That luxury is something that I don’t often feel, and sometimes, directors don’t have the comfort level to have that kind of rehearsal process. Some directors don’t know what to do with rehearsal, and [Michael] Showalter really did.

Read the full interview in our press archive.




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