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It’s been 20 years since the sleeper hit success of one of cinema’s warmest family comedies (Picture: Sophie Giraud/Ifc/Kobal/Shutterstock)
My Big Fat Greek Wedding burst into cinemas 20 years ago today, introducing us all to the rambunctious Portokalos family as they dominate daughter Toula’s (Nia Vardalos) romance with outsider – i.e. non-Greek – Ian (John Corbett).
From friendly threats of death and violence to utter shock at his vegetarianism (but it’s okay – her aunt will ‘make lamb’), their love and humour was infectious and led to the film becoming a sleeper hit and, in fact, the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time with a box office haul of $241.4million (£185.8m).
It also scooped an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay as well as spawning a short-lived TV series and a 2016 sequel movie.
Developed from a one-woman play starring Vardalos, the film was produced with the help of Rita Wilson, who herself has Greek heritage, and husband Tom Hanks, who certainly knew how to spot a hit.
So what has become of its stars, 20 years later?
Vardalos was the brains behind the movie (Picture: George Pimentel/Shutterstock)
As central character Toula, Vardalos played a shy wallflower whose large and interfering Greek family are keen to see her married and have children.
However, after meeting Ian she is inspired to take charge of her own life, away from working in her family’s restaurant, and heads to college, which in turn improves her confidence and sees her make changes to her appearance.
She and Ian date, fall in love, become engaged and eventually get married – but not without an awful lot of involvement from her family.
After nabbing a Golden Globe nod for her performance in the film, which she also wrote, Vardalos hosted Saturday Night Live later that year.
My Big Gat Greek Life, the TV spin-off from the film, lasted for just seven episodes in 2003 and saw all the main actors return bar John Corbett.
Since then, she has stuck to writing as well as acting, creating cult-hit musical Connie and Carla, about two women pretending to be drag queens. She starred in another Greek-themed movie, My Life in Ruins, with Richard Dreyfuss, and made her directorial debut with 2009’s I Hate Valentine’s Day.
Vardalos also co-wrote Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts romantic comedy drama Larry Crowne with the man himself, and produced a bestselling memoir about the experience of adopting her daughter at three years old, called Instant Mom.
The actress, now 59, has enjoyed a long line of guest appearances in TV shows too, including Cougar Town, Grey’s Anatomy, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Although long awaited, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2’s release in 2016 was more of a modest success met with muted reviews. However, in 2021, Vardalos confirmed that she had finished a third screenplay, with hopes to shoot in Greece after the pandemic.
Corbett couldn’t return for the TV series, but did make the sequel film (Picture: Moviestore/Shutterstock)
As Ian, Corbett was in his element playing the laidback boyfriend who has to contend with way more rules and drama than usual when it comes to dating Toula.
He came to the movie already established as a leading man, as he was in the in middle of appearing as Carrie’s (Sarah Jessica Parker) love interest Aidan on Sex and the City, who he portrayed for 22 episodes until 2003.
After My Big Fat Greek Wedding, he did 2004 rom-com Raising Helen with Kate Hudson as well as horror The Messengers and thriller Street Kings, before reuniting with Vardalos for I Hate Valentine’s Day.
Corbett, now 60, has also had further high-profile TV success with United States of Tara opposite Toni Collette from 2009 to 2011 and four years on NBC drama series Parenthood until 2015.
He returned to both Aidan in the second Sex and the City movie in 2010 (although not later spin-off And Just Like That), as well as for the My Big Fat Greek Wedding sequel in 2016.
The performer, who is married to Bo Derek, has also enjoyed success as a country music singer, releasing two studio albums: his 2006 self-titled debut, which reached number 45 on the Billboard Country Albums chart, and 2013’s Leaving Nothin’ Behind.
In recent years, he has appeared in Netflix’s To All the Boys films as Dr Dan Covey.
Kazan bought decades of stage and screen experience with her (Picture: Marion Curtis/StarPix for TCM/Sh)
An established star of the stage and screen, Kazan joined My Big Fat Greek Wedding as Toula’s interfering mother Maria from a career that included understudying for Barbra Streisand (her high school contemporary) on Broadway for Funny Girl and guest-starring multiple times on Dean Martin’s variety series, including 1969’s The Dean Martin Show.
A Tony and Emmy nominee, who also headlined and operated two Playboy Jazz Clubs after posing nude for the publication in 1970, Kazan had already appeared on shows like Columbo, Veronica’s Closet and The Nanny and St Elsewhere.
Post-My Big Fat Greek Wedding, she guest-starred on The King of Queens, Desperate Housewives, Modern Family, Grey’s Anatomy, RuPaul’s Drag Race and Fuller House.
She has also teamed up with Adam Sandler and appeared in 2008’s You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, as well as I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, although her scene as Sandler’s mother was deleted from the film.
A life member of The Actors Studio, Kazan, now 81, joined UCLA as an adjunct professor in 2012 to teach acting and direct productions.
After My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, she has featured in Pixels and The Amityville Murders.
Gus was one of Constantine’s final roles (Picture: FilmMagic)
Constantine was most widely recognised for his portrayal of Nia’s over-protective father Gus in My Big Fat Greek Wedding but enjoyed a long and successful career beforehand.
Beginning his career on stage in New York in the 1950s, one of his first credits was as understudy to Paul Muni in Inherit the Wind in 1953.
He moved to film and television in 1959 and nabbed a small but memorable supporting role in 1961’s The Hustler with Paul Newman.
TV shows he appeared on included Perry Mason, The Twilight Zone, My Favourite Martian and variety shows for the likes of Dick Van Dyke, Jean Arthur and Mary Tyler Moore.
His role as long-suffering head teacher Seymour Kaufman on Room 222 won him an Emmy in 1970 and 1971, as well as a Golden Globe nomination, which he replicated in 1977 for Sirota’s Court.
Constantine was slowing down by the time My Big Fat Greek Wedding came around, with the two films and TV series serving as some of his last onscreen credits.
He died aged 94 in August 2021, with the cast gathering together in his memory later that year, where Vardalos confirmed the third screenplay.
‘He had told me he wouldn’t be able to join us for the third film and his wish was that we go on,’ Vardalos shared on Instagram. ‘I wrote the screenplay to reflect Michael’s decision and will always treasure his last messages to me, hoping we were filming soon.’
Carides recently appeared in Big Little Lies for HBO (Picture: AFF-USA/Shutterstock)
Australian actress Carides played Cousin Nikki in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, one of the more spirited members of the family’s younger generation.
Making her acting debut aged 12 in The Love Letters from Teralba Road, she appeared in several major films ahead of My Big Fat Greek Wedding – namely Strictly Ballroom, Primary Colours with John Travolta and Emma Thompson, and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
Since My Big Fat Greek Wedding and the TV spin-off, Carides, now 57, has kept busy with appearances in films including Exposed, Jack Black and Michael Cera comedy Year One, Burning Man with Matthew Goode and the 2016 Greek sequel.
Australian projects included East of Everything from 2008 to 2009, before she appeared in the Twin Peaks reboot in 2017, as well as fantasy adventure series The Librarians.
However, her most high-profile recent part was as Melissa in both series of HBO smash-hit show Big Little Lies with Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern and Zoë Kravitz.
A prolific actress, Martin is currently busy in TV (Picture: Broadway World/Shutterstock)
Martin was Aunt Voula in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, she of ‘making lamb’ for the vegetarian fame.
Another prolific actress of stage and screen, Martin has six Tony Award nominations to her name and two wins, for 2013’s Pippin and 2016’s Noises Off.
Her movie and TV credits include voice work in Anastasia, The Rugrats, Goof Troop, Batman: The Animated Series, Earthworm Jim, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius as well as cult musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
She first found fame in 1976 with Canada’s SCTV sketch-comedy show alongside the likes of John Candy, Eugene Levy and Schitt’s Creek star Catherine O’Hara.
Since My Big Fat Greek Wedding and its spin-offs, Martin, now 75, has appeared in The Producers, Black Christmas – a remake of the 1974 original slasher she was also in – and Little Italy.
TV has continued to bless her with a lot of voice work for the likes of Kim Possible, SpongeBob SquarePants and Elena of Avalor, while she has appeared in person on Nurse Jackie, 30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Will & Grace.
Martin’s most recent high-profile roles include a recurring stint on classy Christine Baranski legal drama The Good Fight, the main role on Tiny Fey sitcom Great News and parts in series Evil and Harlem in 2021.
It’s gonna be him! The movie marked Fatone’s second acting role (Picture: Broadimage/Shutterstock)
Did you remember this one? NSYNC star Fatone appeared to enjoy himself immensely as Angelo in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, always ready if Ian was to step out of line.
Having achieved massive boyband success with hits including Bye Bye Bye and It’s Gonna Be Me, My Big Fat Greek Wedding was one of his first acting projects, following 2001’s On The Line with former bandmate Lance Bass.
Although he has continued to dabble in screen acting, including occasionally making appearances as himself, Fatone has covered Broadway roles with Rent and Little Shop Of Horrors and moved into presenting by hosting NBC’s The Singing Bee, TV Guide’s red carpet interviews, Celebrity Circus and My Family Recipe Rocks.
Since 2019, the now 45-year-old has hosted game show Common Knowledge and judged Irish singing competition show Last Singer Standing in 2021.