'The Big Sick' Writer Emily V. Gordon: "You Can't Be Precious With Your Own History"
"Taking this actual real-life event that touched you and was very important to you and creating a story from it is always a challenge," the writer said about turning her own story into a movie on THR's Writer Roundtable.
Emily V. Gordon turned her own story with her husband, actor and co-writer Kumail Nanjiani, into a unique romantic comedy with The Big Sick.
"It had been five years since events of the film and I think that helps tremendously because you're far enough away that you can kind of look at it and still kind of feel, but not so much that it's overwhelming you," Gordon explained on The Hollywood Reporter's Writer Roundtable. "That's where this movie came from: having enough emotional distance but not so much that it felt like the distant past."
The Big Sick tells the love story of Emily, an American graduate student, and Kumail, a Pakistani aspiring comedian. As the relationship starts to get more serious, Kumail starts to worry how about his traditional parents will take to the new relationship, but Emily suddenly comes down with a mysterious illness that leaves her in a medically induced coma.
Alongside five other writers — Aaron Sorkin (Molly's Game), Jordan Peele (Get Out), Fatih Akin (In The Fade), Darren Aronofsky (mother!) and Anthony McCarten (Darkest Hour) — Gordon recalled the struggle of adapting her true-life events for the big screen.
"You can't be precious with your own history," she said. "If you saw a movie with what actually happened between with my husband and I, it would be a terrible movie and you would not enjoy it. So taking this actual real-life event that touched you and was very important to you and creating a story from it is always a challenge. Also realizing that just because something was important to you, personally, it doesn't mean it belongs in the movie."
When asked what advice she would give to young writers, Gordon said the main thing to focus on is something that affects you personally. "The best work comes from when you're personally grappling with [something]. If it can speak to something that you're personally going through — not literally but emotionally — I think that always makes a better piece of work. And also, just get the thing done. Get to the end."