As both an actress and a screenwriter, Nia Vardalos finds it's not uncommon for her two sides to be at odds with her instincts. Take her latest work on the Tom Hanks starrer "Larry Crowne." Vardalos co-wrote the script, about a 50-year-old man who loses his job and has to reinvent himself, with Hanks. In one of the many drafts the two powered through together, Vardalos depicted Crowne as a man with a family.
"Of course, my secret plan was that I'd play the sister," says Vardalos, 48, sipping a cappuccino in the lounge at the L'Ermitage Beverly Hills. "That's where the sides of me fight. The writer in me knew it was best for him to be completely adrift. So the writer in me cuts the actress' part. It's best for the script. And that's when I think, 'God, I'm an idiot.' "
No one would call Vardalos an idiot. Tenacious. Optimistic. Vivacious. Those are more apt adjectives to describe the former Second City ensemble player who became a giant star back in 2002, when her one-woman-show-turned-movie, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," became a surprise hit. In the years since, her projects -- from the short-lived "My Big Fat Greek Life" TV show to 2009's "My Life in Ruins" -- have never reached heights close to "Wedding," but that hasn't stopped Vardalos from continually moving forward. "I'm a person who, against all odds, with average to middling looks, gets to be in movies," says Vardalos, laughing. "I just don't take no for an answer."