“The Big Wedding” is a romantic comedy that asks the question: “What happens when a divorced couple pretends to still be married at their son’s wedding?” To the amusement of their adult children and friends, long-divorced couple Don and Ellie Griffin (played by Oscar winners Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton) are once again forced to play the happy couple for the sake of their adopted son's wedding, after his ultra-conservative biological mother unexpectedly decides to fly halfway across the world to attend. With all of the wedding guests looking on, the Griffins confront their past, present and future — and hopefully try to avoid killing each other in the process.
The large ensemble cast of “The Big Wedding” includes Oscar winner Susan Sarandon as Don’s girlfriend Bebe, who is Ellie’s former best friend; Oscar winner Robin Williams as Father Moinighan, the priest who is officiating at the wedding; Katherine Heigl and Topher Grace as Don and Ellie’s biological children; Ben Barnes as Alejandro, Don and Ellie’s adopted son who is getting married; Amanda Seyfried as Missy, Alejandro’s bride; and Patricia Rae as Alejandro’s biological mother, Madonna. Here is what some of the stars of “The Big Wedding” had to say in interviews about the movie.
Interview with Robert De Niro
How did you get involved with “The Big Wedding”?
De Niro: I thought it was interesting. I liked the character. I liked Justin [Zackham], the director. And they were getting certain people. Diane Keaton, I was hearing that she was going to be in it, and I thought that would be great.
What can you say about some of your co-stars in “The Big Wedding”?
De Niro: Diane was terrific. Susan [Sarandon] is terrific. Robin was great. We worked together before. I had a lot of fun with all the other actors. There was a good feeling on the set with everybody. Everything was very nice.
Can you describe working with “The Big Wedding” writer/director Justin Zackham?
De Niro: Justin, I enjoyed working with a lot. He knew what he wanted. It was clear. It was fun. We all had a good time on the movie.
Interview With Diane Keaton
What do you want audiences to take away from seeing “The Big Wedding”?
Keaton: I hope that when audiences see this movie that they’ll enjoy it, that they’ll be touched by it, that they’ll have laughed and see their own lives mirrored in this story, because somehow weddings bring out the most insane moments in people’s lives.
How would you describe Ellie?
Keaton: My character in this movie is a complicated woman and somebody that I don’t identify with because she is a person who was betrayed by her husband having an affair with her best friend. But at the same time, she had betrayed her husband, and yet she holds it against him. That’s what’s so interesting about human nature. You’re mad when somebody does that to you, but you do it to them, and it’s OK somehow. So there are aspects of Ellie where she needs to learn some lessons, which she does in this movie.
What do you like most about Ellie?
Keaton: And just the whole idea that you learn something from this amazing experience of being married and getting married and watching your kids get married and honoring this great tradition that has the best possible intention. And in the end, I like the fact that she says to Robin Williams, “There are many different kinds of love.” There’s room of all of them in one person’s life. We can feel many different kinds of love and feel happy about that, but no expect so much from love.”
And, to me, I like that about her. So she’s a full-blooded person who makes mistakes and is a mess on the one hand, but on the other hand, is well-intended and learns a lesson. So that’s why I like my character.
What’s your favorite memory of making “The Big Wedding”?
Keaton: My favorite memory from the set was punching Robert De Niro. [She laughs.] That was a good memory for me.
“The Big Wedding” isn’t the first time that you’ve played the mother of the bride in a wedding movie …
Keaton: I also did “Father of the Bride” with [writer] Nancy Meyers and [writer/director] Charles Shyer, so I’ve been in three movies that deal with weddings. [The other was “Father of the Bride Part II.”] And I’ve been the mother of the bride in three movies. And it’s fun to play. I really like playing these parts.
What was a typical day on the set of “The Big Wedding”?
Keaton: A typical day on the set was that everything starts in the beginning. And everything is based on who everything goes in the makeup trailer. And the makeup trailer was cast. And everybody would be coming and going. There’d be Katherine Heigl and there’d be Topher Grace. And Topher Grace is a really smart guy and really fast. And you’d be having fun talking to him. And then Amanda [Seyfried] would bring her dog in, and then Susan Sarandon would show up.
Interview With Susan Sarandon
How would you summarize “The Big Wedding”?
Sarandon: It brings together a bunch of people who have unresolved issues and relationships and the most extreme possible plot, I suppose. All the actors, who are a great bunch of really wonderful actors, just accept [the plot] as being perfectly natural and play it that way. So it has lots of doors opening and shutting and beds hopping and people hopping in and out of beds and people storming off and people falling in love. You know, that kind of movie: a fun movie, which hopefully has some kind of moving parts to it.
The set-up is that [the characters played by] Diane Keaton and Robert De Niro were divorced years ago. I was her good friend and his mistress for a number of years. And they adopted a son [played by] Ben Barnes from South America, and his [biological] mother hasn’t been told that they are divorced. And she’s getting on a plane for the very first time. So the lie that everyone accepts — which really hurts [Bebe’s] feelings — is that Keaton and De Niro have to pretend that they’re still married.
How would you describe Bebe?
Sarandon: I think she’s a fairly sympathetic character. She’s probably from the South and not from Greenwich originally. There’s a little bit of a twang there. So she’s a nice counterpoint to Diane’s character, who’s very tailored. [Bebe] is a little over-the-top.
What was it like working with your “Big Wedding” co-stars?
Sarandon: It was great to have Katherine [Heigl] and also to have Diane, whom I’d known from New York years ago, but also had never worked with. And I’m a big fan of anyone female who survives in this business and her work. She’s really smart. She had her kids there. I know Robin [Williams], and I knew Topher [Grace], so it’s fun to be in an ensemble cast, really. It’s fun. The energy stays up.
How would you describe “The Big Wedding” writer/director Justin Zackham?
Sarandon: He was very prepared and incredibly enthusiastic and really sweet. It made for a very fun set. They even gave me a ping-pong table, which I hardly got a chance to use, but the crew got much better at their game. He cares very much. He’s a funny guy and a sweet guy, so I hope he gets to do more movies.
What should audiences expect when they see “The Big Wedding”?
Sarandon: The very first goal, I think, when you’re in this business, is to help people feel things and to give them an opportunity to laugh and go, “Aww...” I think there’s a lot of different kinds of humor in the film. And at the same time, there’s a few moments that are family moments that touch you. So I just hope it’s a fun, entertaining film and that if your daughter’s getting married or your son’s getting married that you don’t practice this at home! [She laughs.]
Interview With Robin Williams
How would you describe Father Moinighan?
Williams: Father Moinighan is a priest for basically a very wealthy parish in Connecticut. As they say, he’s a missionary for the folks who need it the most. He knows a lot of them very well, and they’ve taken care of him very well. He offers absolution for people who’ve been married multiple times. It’s kind of like the revolving door school of marriage. “Oh, you’re back! Welcome!” Confession is really interesting.
What do you think of “The Big Wedding’s” plot?
Williams: It’s basically the wedding of an adopted child, and it’s bringing everybody back — all the exes and present partners. And it’s all the dynamic of that around the wedding. That’s what makes it kind of wild. And then add to that alcohol and whatever else goes on. And then people sharing stories and coming back and what’s going on and attractions and old flames being rekindled.
What was it like working with “The Big Wedding” writer/director Justin Zackham?
Williams: He’s very good. Basically, here’s the drill: You do the script, and then he basically lets you go off on that. The good news is the base is so good, you don’t have to worry. It’s a really well-written piece, and you’ve got a lot of great people to bounce off of, so that’s also wonderful.
For more info: "The Big Wedding" website