‘The Big Sick’: Ray Romano and Producer Judd Apatow on the Film’s Development

     June 21, 2017


At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, one of the biggest deals was Amazon Pictures acquiring director Michael Showalter’s The Big Sick for $12 million. While at the festival I’d heard the incredible buzz around the film but after attending Sundance for almost a decade, I’d seen first-hand how the initial reaction to a film can become more subdued after more people get to see it. I’m not sure if it’s the festival air, or being part of the first group to see a film, but sometimes the initial reactions are way off base.

This is not one of those times.

If you haven’t heard of the film, The Big Sick is based on the true story of actor/comedian Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) and writer/producer Emily V. Gordon’s unique courtship, with Nanjiani playing himself in the film while Zoe Kazan fills the role of his girlfriend. After the two strike up a relationship, Emily discovers Kumail’s family is deeply invested in an arranged marriage with someone of Pakistani decent. They break up, but Emily then gets a serious, mysterious illness and falls into a coma. Kumail then stays by her side while forging an awkward relationship with Emily’s parents, played in the film by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter. Loaded with a great script, fantastic performances and an original story, I can’t recommend The Big Sick enough. For more on the film read Matt Goldberg’s review.

the-big-sick-posterWith The Big Sick opening in limited release this weekend and expanding nationwide July 14th, the other day I sat down with Ray Romano and producer Judd Apatow. They talked about first meeting each other twenty five years ago when doing an HBO comedy special, how they got involved in the project, memorable moments from filming, finding the emotional honesty of a scene, how the script was being worked on for years, and a lot more.

Check out what they had to say in the player above and below is what we talked about followed by the official synopsis and some images.

Ray Romano and Judd Apatow:

  • How they first met back in 1992 when they did an HBO comedy special.
  • How did they get involved in the project?
  • Memorable moments from filming.
  • Apatow talks about what makes a good producer.
  • How to play the emotional honesty of a scene.
  • How the script was being worked on for years before filming began.

Image via Sundance

The Big Sick synopsis:

Based on the real-life courtship between Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, THE BIG SICK tells the story of Pakistan-born aspiring comedian Kumail (Nanjiani), who connects with grad student Emily (Kazan) after one of his standup sets. However, what they thought would be just a one-night stand blossoms into the real thing, which complicates the life that is expected of Kumail by his traditional Muslim parents. When Emily is beset with a mystery illness, it forces Kumail to navigate the medical crisis with her parents, Beth and Terry (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano) who he’s never met, while dealing with the emotional tug-of-war between his family and his heart.  THE BIG SICK is directed by Michael Showalter (HELLO MY NAME IS DORIS) and produced by Judd Apatow (TRAINWRECK, THIS IS 40) and Barry Mendel (TRAINWRECK, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS).

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