Kumail Nanjiani, Emily V. Gordon Talk Family and Politics at 'Big Sick' L.A. Premiere

Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani - Premiere of The Big Sick -Getty-H 2017
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The Barry Mendel and Judd Apatow-produced film is based on a real-life story.

The Big Sick’s Los Angeles premiere at the ArcLight Hollywood on Monday evening was filled with laughs and memories for the tight-knit cast.

Based on the true story of Kumail Nanjiani, who co-wrote the movie with his wife, Emily V. Gordon (played by Zoe Kazan), The Big Sick follows the couple's families through physical and cultural turmoil as Gordon becomes severely ill and Nanjiani's family begins to resent him for choosing a secular lifestyle over that of traditional Islam.

“I don’t want to put any pressure on anyone to get anything from it,” Nanjiani said. “I hope people will see it, I hope they have a good time seeing it and I hope they see something that they’ve been through reflected on the screen. I hope they connect with the movie in some way.”

Kazan echoed Nanjiani’s sentiments, saying she hopes moviegoers will embrace a film that portrays a secular Muslim. “I hope people walk away being like, ‘Muslims are just like us.’ That’s a joke,” Kazan said. “But, I mean, there’s a spirit of humanism in it and I hope that people come away from it infused with that.”

After having a few premieres of the movie under her belt, Gordon said she wants viewers to take the movie as her and Nanjiani intended the message to be through their writing the screenplay together.

“I want the viewers to see it as we intended it, which is like a little, lovely love story,” Gordon said. “It’s a love story with a lot of complications, and it’s a love story that has cultural stuff. It has illness, it has family, it has arguments. That’s what I want them to take away from it. I want them to see it as it is.”

Dubbed “An Awkward True Story” featuring fact and fiction, The Big Sick was produced by Barry Mendel and Judd Apatow. Mendel recalled the initial pitch Nanjiani gave to him and Apatow, where Nanjiani brought in memorabilia, including hospital wristbands and name cards from when the real-life “big sick” experience actually occurred.

“He kept this stuff for a reason, not for a movie pitch, because it meant something to him,” Mendel said. “He went through something real and powerful, and we just felt it and I just felt if we could put that on screen, that would be so cool.”

Apatow said what The Big Sick highlighted best was the portrayal of an immigrant family assimilating to life in the United States, something he cited as a rare occurrence within the television and film industries.

“I think it’s always important to show people that are underserved in our culture,” Apatow said. “I mean, there are a lot of immigrants in our country, and this is one way to show what their experience is here and the type of challenges they face assimilating into this country.”

Having known Nanjiani for a long time, director Michael Showalter has had the chance to work with the Silicon Valley comedian in past projects.

“What I’m excited about is for people to just see this movie, that even though it’s this personal story about Kumail and Emily and how they met, I think it’s a universal story that everybody should be able to find something in it that they can relate to and that has meaning for them, and hopefully will make people think a little differently about other people when they see the film,” Showalter said.

Aidy Bryant (“Mary”), Ray Romano (“Terry”), Holly Hunter (“Beth”), Kurt Braunohler (“Chris”) and Adeel Akhtar (“Naveed”), all came to support their fellow co-stars at the June 12 premiere. Following the screening, guests were invited to attend the afterparty at Avenue in Hollywood.

The Big Sick will open with a limited release in select cities on June 23, and it will open in theaters everywhere on its wide release July 14.