Screenwriters and actors Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon spoke with uInterview about their new upcoming film The Big Sick, a semi-fictional film adaptation of their lives.


The Big Sick follows Kumail, a Pakistani comic, as he falls in love with a white woman and can’t bring himself to introduce her to his traditional Muslim parents. Emily (Zoe Kazan) soon becomes ill and is put in a coma, during which time Kumail bonds with Emily’s parents and discovers what he must do.

In our interview, the screenwriting couple adorably argued about what percentage of the movie is true to their life story, with Nanjiani convinced 65% and Gordon slightly lower at 60%. “If you describe the movie in 10 seconds, then absolutely every part of that is true,” said Gordon. “But then we did a lot of changing of characterizations of people, we moved events around, we created events, so I would say 60.” “65,” chimed in Nanjiani with a smile.

Ray Romano also stars in the film as Emily’s father, and the pair say working with him was “awesome.” “I was just really excited to work with him as a comedian, he’s one of the legendary comedians. He was awesome, we still text all the time, we’re friends,” Nanjiani said. And Holly Hunter who plays Emily’s mother. “She’s a legendary actress, she’s won Oscars, she’s been nominated many times, so I was intimidated, but then when I met her, she’s awesome, generous, and lovely, and giving, so it really was like such a thrill to work with them.”

“We both got carry-on and check-in,” Nanjiani joked about the baggage each person brings to the table. “Culturally I suppose that’s true, my baggage was relationship stuff and also the illness that threatens things,” Gordon clarifies.

A major point in Kumail’s trepidation about dating Emily is that he doesn’t know how his Muslim parents would react. “I don’t know if it’s a central part of the story but as someone who’s a brown person, you understand that people see you differently, and sort of joking about it is a way of dealing with it before other people deal with it, it’s a control thing,” he said. Gordon adds, “It wasn’t in the script for a while, it was actually our director Michael Showalter who said he felt like a piece of the story was missing, that something needed to be sprinkled in. Nothing heavy handed, just a couple of jokes here and there.”

The Big Sick hit theaters June 23.

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