The creator of the 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' franchise had the romantic encounter under a full moon at an outdoor restaurant in Greece
Nia Vardalos wrote one of the most successful romantic comedies of all time, so it’s only fitting that when she met her boyfriend, it felt like a cinematic experience.
The creator of the My Big Fat Greek Wedding franchise, who wrote, directed and stars in the third installment, reveals she’s in a relationship in the new issue of PEOPLE.
She met the man, who lives in Athens, last year “in the most romantic way possible,” she says. “We met on the night of a full moon at an outdoor restaurant in Greece. It's like I wrote a movie and then walked into it.”
The sweet encounter happened after she wrapped filming on My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 — which Vardalos, 60, says is a good thing, because she was too busy to think of anything but the movie.
“I believe when you're filming that you have to be like a Barbie doll, like just smooth down there,” she jokes. “You have no sexuality whatsoever. No. When you're filming a movie, you're just walking through it, just get your job done. There's no crying. So I don't believe in relationships during the making of a movie.”
Though she’ll share how they met, Vardalos is mum on other details about her boyfriend. “I've learned to keep things private,” she explains. “The relationship I'm in right now, I'm trying to keep it as private as possible to preserve its specialness.”
The Oscar nominee split from her husband, actor Ian Gomez, in 2018 after more than two decades of marriage. Vardalos, who shares teen daughter Ilaria with her ex, didn’t date much afterwards because she was focused on being a mom.
“So I tried to just not think about myself in that way, because no teenager wants to hear or know about what their mom is doing. I think a teenager should be self-centered and only go through their life thinking about themselves,” says Vardalos.
Ilaria joined Vardalos for the overseas My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 shoot and proved to be a trusted assistant.
“My kid has a very good eye,” continues Vardalos, with more than a hint of pride. “Here’s this teenager behind me intently looking at the monitor and giving me little bits of advice like ‘Mom, he had the broom in his right hand before.’ ”
Vardalos’s mom, Doreen, a frequent extra in her daughter’s projects, also joined them in Greece last summer, but the movie wasn’t quite a full family affair.
Vardalos’s ex Gomez, who played a family friend in the first two installments (and also inspired John Corbett’s character), declined to be in the movie. “I invited him. And he didn’t come,” says Vardalos.
Were her feelings hurt? “It’s more like I’m stumped,” she replies. (A rep for Gomez did not return PEOPLE's request for comment.)
Nevertheless, the returning cast — including Andrea Martin as eccentric Aunt Voula and Corbett as Vardalos’s on-screen husband — had a blast. “It was an amazing experience from beginning to end,” she says.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 is in theaters now.
For more on Nia Vardalos, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE.
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Read the original article on People.