Nia Vardalos‘ romance with ex-husband Ian Gomez modeled her fictional relationship in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Vardalos and Gomez, who met doing improv comedy, tied the knot in 1993. Upon their nuptials, Gomez converted to Greek Orthodoxy. Vardalos used the religious conversion as a plot point in the 2002 rom-com, which she both starred in and wrote.
“When I started to write My Big Fat Greek Wedding, all I did was write down everything that had ever happened to me,” Vardalos recalled during a February 2018 interview with 20/20.
While Vardalos’ character Toula Portokalos gets a happy ending with the man of her dreams Ian Miller (John Corbett), the actress’ real-life love story didn’t end up the same. Gomez and Vardalos ultimately split after more than two decades of marriage.
Keep scrolling to relive Vardalos and Gomez’s relationship timeline:
The twosome wed nearly a decade before Vardalos’ comedy hit the big screen.
When Vardalos’ script was put into the works her then-husband was cast in a supporting role as the best man to Corbett’s character.
“We didn’t want to play a couple opposite each other because we felt like it’s kind of a little presumptuous to tell an audience, ‘Look how cute we are as a couple!’” Vardalos told Bobbie Wygant in 2002.
Vardalos experienced a series of fertility issues while trying to expand her family with Gomez. After a nine-year struggle with IVF, the duo adopted their daughter Ilaria.
More than a decade after My Big Fat Greek Wedding’s release, Vardalos and Gomez returned for the sequel and reprised their roles.
Before announcing their split, Vardalos and Gomez quietly separated after 24 years of marriage.
“We’ve been respectfully separated for a lengthy period of time. Our relationship became a friendship so the decision to end the marriage is completely mutual and amicable,” the former couple said in a joint statement to Us Weekly at the time. “It is our hope that decency will prevail on the reporting of this story which will soon be yesterday’s news. Thank you for respecting our privacy.”
Following their breakup, Gomez exclusively told Us that he and Vardalos were on “great terms” and he was hopeful to work with her again on the third installment of My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
“It’s a really sweet franchise. She has so many people that have come up to her and just said the most amazing things about, like, their families getting back together because of the film, or like, ‘My dad and I didn’t talk and then we bonded over this film,’” he shared. “It’s a legacy. I mean, it’s amazing.”
While Vardalos returned for My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3, Gomez’s character was not featured in the film despite his openness to return despite the pair’s split.