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'Four Weddings and a Funeral' Visits TCA for a Q&A
July 31, 2019  | By Mike Hughes
 


LOS ANGELES – Let's officially designate this as the Richard Curtis Summer, crossing most media platforms. 

It started early on TV with the Red Nose Day special May 23, part of a global charity Curtis co-founded 34 years ago, raising (so far) more than $1.3 billion.

It reached movie theaters on June 28 with Yesterday. The film has passed $100 million worldwide, which would be minor in the superhero universe, but is big for a sweet-spirited comedy/drama.

And now it is reaching the streaming world. Four Weddings and a Funeral, sleek and amiable, and an adaptation of his movie, starts Wednesday (July 31) on Hulu. "It's a British institution almost, those Richard Curtis films," said Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones), one of the show's stars, during a session for the show at the Television Critics Association (TCA) Press Tour this week.

Like other Curtis films – Love ActuallyNotting Hill, etc. – Four Weddings is familiar to nearly all British folks. Eventually. "I saw it when I got the job," said Nikesh Patel, another series star.

Three Americans, however – Mindy Kaling, Tracey Wigfield, and Matt Warburton – created the 10-week miniseries. "We're all big fans of the whole Richard Curtis canon," Wigfield said.

MGM, which owns the rights, pitched the idea to Kaling. Her reaction, she says, was basic: "I would like to do a love story (with) an African-American woman and a British-Pakistani man falling in love."

So the writers started there and weaved in other stories as four American friends go to London for a mega-wedding. The show's international feel neatly fits; consider the creators/writers of both versions of Four Weddings and a Funeral

Mindy Kaling is an American native whose parents (an architect and an obstetrician) are from India and Bangladesh but met in Nigeria. And she's "a real Anglophile" following her supporting role in The Office (based on a British series), her script for the film Late Night (in which she co-starred with British star Emma Thompson), and now Four Weddings and a Funeral, which was filmed in London for six-plus months.

Richard Curtis was born in New Zealand, the son of a Czech refugee. He lived with his family in several countries – Sweden, Philippines and more – before settling in England at the age of eleven. That was 1967 when England was the center of the rock world as reflected in his Pirate Radio and Yesterday films.

In many ways, Curtis became the classic Englishman – an Oxford grad who linked with Rowan Atkinson to write BlackadderMr. Bean, and the two Bean movies. But he's also worked overseas (including creating the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, the HBO series filmed in Botswana). And with actor Lenny Henry, he created what became Red Nose Day; its TV specials – including, for a time, Idol Gives Back in the U.S. – raise money for global causes.

That lifts Curtis to icon status, something that made an impression on the people making the series. Curtis met with Kaling, went to the cast's first script-reading, saw the rough-cuts and had suggestions.

"He pitched a song for the end of the second episode," Wigfield said. "We were totally over our music budget. But we were like, 'But Richard pitched it,' and they're like, 'Alright, we'll write the check.' "

 
 
 
 
 
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