My Big Fat Greek Wedding star Nia Vardalos is mourning the loss of her father, Constantine “Gus” Vardalos, who died on March 12th at the age of 87. Unfortunately, the actress was not able to fly home to Canada for his funeral because of the travel restrictions implemented by the COVID-19 pandemic, so the 57-year-old is grieving by starting a fundraiser.
Vardalos – who wrote the rom com that was one of the biggest box office draws of the late 1990s – found inspiration from her dad for her character’s father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. She told Variety that Gus started showing signs of his declining health during the Christmas holiday season.
“If he had gone 14 days ago when they weren’t acknowledging the [coronavirus] global threat, we all would have gathered and it could have brought down the city,” said Vardalos, adding that she saw her father’s death as a sign of his “impeccable timing.” She explained that he waited until the church said they couldn’t have any more large gatherings, and he knew he was keeping people safe.
Despite not being able to attend the funeral, Vardalos wrote on Instagram that “giving back and connectivity is the way forward” for her. She said that she is grateful for her life, and the last week of mourning made her even more sure that it’s the right path.
“If you have a little money to spare, donate a little. If you have a lot, please consider helping the many who need food, masks, gloves. Open your big fat wallets and donate. Let’s do something good. 🍎🍊 #bigfatdonation,” wrote Vardalos.
Except that he was pro-education, my dad was the basis for the character of Gus I wrote in the Greek wedding movies. He was so proud of us all and we know he is in heaven teaching everyone the Greek root of all words. Constantine Vardalos, 1932 – 2020. Rest peacefully. ✝️ pic.twitter.com/EpOftXPzTZ
— Nia Vardalos (@NiaVardalos) March 13, 2020
Since announcing the fundraiser, Vardalos has tracked donations on her Twitter account and retweeted other celebrities who have used the #bigfatdonation hashtag when donating to their respective charities. So far, Rihanna, Gilmore Girls alum Lauren Graham, and Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet have donated to the cause.
Vardalos said that people in the entertainment industry are fortunate, privileged, and pampered, and some want to use their voices to “do something.” That’s why she decided to go online and find different organizations because she has to do some good or she’s “going to go nuts.”