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.' "
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, May 04, 2011 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 52 words Type of Material: Correction
Nia Vardalos: An article about Nia Vardalos in the May 1 Calendar section said that Playtone Productions had produced the actress' "My Life in Ruins" and "My Big Fat Greek Life." Although company principals Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman were involved with both projects, Playtone was not a listed producer on either.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, May 08, 2011 Home Edition Sunday Calendar Part D Page 3 Calendar Desk 1 inches; 48 words Type of Material: Correction
Nia Vardalos: A May 1 article about Nia Vardalos said that Playtone Productions had produced the actress' "My Life in Ruins" and "My Big Fat Greek Life." Although company principals Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman were involved with both projects, Playtone was not a listed producer on either.
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."
It helps that Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, are something like patron saints to Vardalos. The trio met before "Greek Wedding" (Hanks' company Playtone produced the film, the TV show and "Ruins") and have remained close ever since. In fact, it was to Hanks and Wilson that Vardalos turned at a time when she was considering quitting acting for good. That's when Hanks approached her with "Larry Crowne," which opens July 1.
The two worked over a five-year period on the project, with the tone shifting initially from a quirky comedy in the vein of "Napoleon Dynamite" to what it is now -- "a relatable, Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts movie in the way you want to see them," she says, despite Hanks' initial objections. "I had to convince this everyman that he's a super-attractive guy who should get the girl. He didn't believe me."