How "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3" Honors Late Actor Michael Constantine
The third installment of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" deals with the absence of a beloved character, Gus Portokalos, and the family's journey to honor his memory. The film crew's search for an old olive tree for a pivotal scene turned out to be a stroke of luck, which they believe was a sign from the late actor.
In "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3," the absence of Michael Constantine, who played Gus Portokalos, is deeply felt by both the audience and the characters. Constantine, who passed away in 2021 at the age of 94, was responsible for delivering some of the most memorable lines in the franchise. In the third movie, which is set to be released on September 8th, Gus' character has died before the events of the film take place.
The movie begins with the Portokalos family grappling with their loss, and their grief sets the stage for the story. Toula, portrayed by Nia Vardalos, who also serves as the director, writer, and executive producer, leads her family on a journey to Gus' ancestral village in Greece, a place he never had the chance to visit.
Before his death, Gus had asked Toula to find his childhood friends and give them his old diary, which contained memories from his early years in the United States. However, locating his friends proves to be a challenging task.
Meanwhile, Toula and her brother Nick, played by Louis Mandylor, must navigate the changing family dynamics as their mother Maria, portrayed by Lainie Kazan, grapples with memory loss. They find themselves stepping into the roles their parents once occupied.
In a subplot, Nick takes it upon himself to arrange a burial for Gus and transports his ashes to the village. Along the way, Nick embarks on a search for the oldest olive tree, symbolizing the stature of a patriarch. This quest mirrors the real-life challenges faced by the film's crew in finding the perfect tree in Corfu, where the movie was filmed.
Production designer Grant Armstrong shares the difficulties they encountered in their search for a majestic olive tree. However, through a fortuitous conversation with an olive oil distributor, they were led to a grove of ancient olive trees that took their breath away. These trees, estimated to be around 1,500 to 2,000 years old, were a remarkable discovery and an obvious choice for the film.
Similarly, Nick only finds the tree he needs after speaking to a local, and with the help of a new character, he is able to give Gus a heartfelt send-off in a poignant scene.
Armstrong speculates that finding the olive grove may have been more than just luck. He believes it could have been a sign of approval from the late Michael Constantine, as if Gus himself had guided them to the perfect location.
"It was a real find. We didn't think we'd be able to find it -- and we found it," Armstrong reflects, acknowledging the significance of stumbling upon such a remarkable setting.
In "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3," the absence of Michael Constantine's character, Gus Portokalos, is keenly felt. The movie explores the Portokalos family's grief and their journey to Gus' ancestral village in Greece. Along the way, they encounter challenges, including the search for Gus' childhood friends and the quest for the perfect olive tree for his burial. The film's crew faced their own challenges in finding the right location, but a fortuitous conversation led them to an awe-inspiring grove of ancient olive trees. This discovery, reminiscent of the journey within the film, may have been more than just luck, but a sign of approval from Constantine himself. "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3" promises to be a heartfelt and poignant continuation of the beloved franchise.