During our recent video chat (watch the exclusive video above), Michael Showalter reveals that he wanted to direct “The Big Sick” because of “what the movie has to say about family and sickness and relationships, and cultural identity, and what it means to be an American.” This Lionsgate and Amazon Studios film centers on Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani), a Pakistani comedian who falls in love with Emily (Zoe Kazan), much to the ire of his traditional Muslim family. Their relationship takes a sudden turn when Emily falls into a medically-induced coma, and Kumail takes charge of the situation when her parents (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano) arrive.
The film was written by Nanjiani, a co-star of HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” and his wife Emily V. Gordon, who based it on their real life experiences. Knowing the couple personally, Showalter reveals, “I felt like I could be someone to collaborate with them, and help them bring their vision to life.” When working with the two on the script and on set, “They really understood that in order for the movie to take flight, they had to let go, to some extent, of their attachments to it.”
Showalter got his start as a member of the comedy sketch trio Stella, along with David Wain and Michael Ian Black. Together they created MTV’s “The State” and the cult favorite “Wet Hot American Summer” (2001). As a director, Showalter has helmed “The Baxter” and “Hello, My Name is Doris,” as well as episodes of “Love” and “Grace and Frankie.”
“The Big Sick” opened to wide critical acclaim and boffo box office in limited release. The film expands wide on July 14. Could it follow in the footsteps of such romantic comedies as “Annie Hall” and “Four Weddings and a Funeral” at the Oscars?