Writer Emily V. Gordon and actor/comedian Kumail Nanjiani discuss their first date and what makes them laugh about each other.
NEW YORK — The Big Sick is not only a uniquely personal love story, but one that’s taken on political undertones in the months since President Trump’s inauguration.
Co-written by Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Emily V. Gordon, the romantic comedy (in theaters Friday in New York and Los Angeles, expands nationwide July 14) is a lightly fictionalized account of the first year of their relationship, when an unexpected medical crisis landed her in a coma for eight days.
While Emily (played by Zoe Kazan) is in the hospital, Kumail (Nanjiani) gets to know her parents, Beth (Holly Hunter) and Terry (Ray Romano), who tag along with him to a comedy club one night where he’s performing stand-up. When his set is disrupted by a heckler — who yells, “Go back to ISIS!” — Beth vehemently responds by trying to hit the man before she’s thrown out.
“In test screenings, which we were doing before the election, (Beth’s outburst) just got huge laughs,” says Gordon, 38. But at festival screenings ever since Sundance Film Festival, where Sick premiered on Inauguration Day, “it often gets applause breaks, which is interesting.”
Adds Nanjiani, 39: “I was very concerned at Sundance, like, ‘How is this going to play?’ I was just afraid that (scene) was going to be sad, but it isn’t. It’s joyful, but it’s also righteous anger. People clap as if (it’s) almost triumphant.”
Nanjiani, who appears in HBO’s Silicon Valley (Sundays, 10 ET/PT), was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, where he was brought up in a strict Shiite…