New Canaan's Heigl stars in 'The Big Wedding'
"The Big Wedding," a big-budget comedy with a bevy of local ties -- from its director, to its all-star cast, to its filming locations -- opened in theaters Friday.
Directed by Greenwich native Justin Zackham (who also wrote the screenplay for "The Bucket List"), the film centers on a long-divorced couple, played by Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton, who fake being married as their family gathers for a wedding. In reality, De Niro's character is dating another woman (played by Susan Sarandon) -- a painfully awkward situation with the potential for hilarity.
Rounding out the all-star cast are Connecticut-raised actors Katherine Heigl, of New Canaan, and Topher Grace, of Darien, along with Robin Williams, Amanda Seyfried, Ben Barnes and Christine Ebersole.
At the time, Zackham said he took a very sober approach to his first directing role, even consulting with other directors, such as Peter Farrelly, of "Dumb and Dumber" fame, on how to treat the cast members.
"What a lot of them told me is that the big movie stars want to be directed, " he said. "Forget about who they are. Forget about what they've done. Forget about what their trophy case looks like."
Lesson No. 1: no gushing over De Niro's Oscar-winning performances in "Raging Bull" or "The Godfather" trilogy.
"If you do that, you lose right out of the gate," Zackham said. "I try not to think about that."
Perhaps an even more notable star of "The Big Wedding" is Greenwich itself.
During the summer of 2011, Zackham, along with Clay Pecorin, a boyhood friend and fellow Greenwich native who is the film's lead producer, transformed the town into their very own Hollywood lot.
"It's been just kind of amazing to come home," Zackham said. "To do something like this with my best friend who I've known since eighth grade, that's the best part."
Lower Fairfield County is no stranger to Hollywood productions. De Niro has been to the region many times, filming "What Just Happened," "Righteous Kill" and "Everybody's Fine" in various towns. All of the movies were critical and commercial flops. De Niro is probably hoping his visit to the area yields some blockbuster results this time around.
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