In 2002, when Joey Fatone was busy performing on 'N Sync's Celebrity world tour, another project of his was busy breaking records: My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The singer had a small, supporting role in Nia Vardalos' hit indie comedy about unexpected romance and family acceptance as a member of the heroine's extended family; years later, the long-awaited sequel to the film, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, is about to come out, and Fatone is back in action once again as Toula's cousin Angelo. The pressure on any movie's follow-up film would be high, but if it's the sequel to the highest-grossing rom-com of all time? You'd think it'd be astronomical — but according to Fatone, that's actually not the case.
"Nia was like, 'Listen, we’re not trying to make this better than the first... what we’re just trying to do is have the fun we did the first time,'" Fatone tells Bustle. "Just have fun."
Apparently, that was easy enough to accomplish. Fatone describes how Angelo's lovingly antagonistic relationship with Toula's brother Nick (Louis Mandylor) echoed their real-life friendship, saying, "What you see on the set and what you don't see off-set is very similar." A few examples? "Who’s tagging each other in the nuts, who’s putting each other in a headlock. One time the guy came to my trailer and knocked and mooned me when I opened up the door."
You know what they say: you can't choose your family. Fatone talks about the Greek Wedding 2 filming process like he was coming home again, albeit to a much bigger stage; the films' ensemble has only grown since Vardalos first told the loosely autobiographical story about her wedding to Cougar Town actor Ian Gomez on-screen. Fatone's part, for one, has been beefed up significantly for the sequel, and in fact, Greek Wedding 2, out Mar. 25, finds Angelo navigating a similar situation to Toula's in the original movie.
"It’s a matter of just having people accept your partner, whether it’s a different race or whatever [the difference] may be," Fatone says, discussinng Angelo's hesitations about starting a new romance. "I need to have the balls to just kind of say it, and how do I say it?"
You'll have to see the movie to find out if Angelo locates his confidence, but as for the actor? There's no doubt he's doing just fine. Ever since 'N Sync went on hiatus (hush, I'm still calling it that) and even before, Fatone has dabbled in all different areas of entertainment, from hosting to acting to getting a second place finish on Dancing With The Stars. Currently, he's delving into business ("I have a hot dog product I’m coming out with," he reveals, adding, "I know. It's f*ckng bizarre"), as well as movies; on Apr 1, he'll star in the Syfy channel's Dead 7 , an epic zombie Western written by Backstreet Boy Nick Carter and presented by the studio who brought you all the Sharknados.
"It couldn’t have happened at a better time [for us], I think," Fatone says of the movie's cast of pop stars, which, besides him, includes Backstreet's Carter, A.J. McLean, and Howie Dorough; 98 Degrees' Jeff Timmons; Erik Estrada, Jacob Underwood, Trevor Penick, and Dan Miller from O-Town, and fellow 'N Sync alum Chris Kirkpatrick. "Some people are married, some people have kids. Some people are wiser, some people are not. But it all came about like, 'you know what? That would be fun, why not?'"
In Dead 7, Fatone plays a rough-and-ready cowboy named Whiskey Joe, and I can assure you that judging from the preview clip he showed me, the zombies trying to take over his town don't have much of a chance. "Dead 7 is that kind of funny, tongue-in-cheek, trying-to-be-serious-but-it’s-not [movie]," the actor explains.
If the movie brings an audience, Dead 7 could be the start of an ass-kicking TRL-veteran franchise — which, according to Fatone, would be perfectly OK. Says the actor, "What we were talking about — me and Nick — is coming together and coming up with the ideas, almost like an American Horror Story, to where [the next movie] has the same actors, but it’s a completely different story. It could be aliens or whatever the f*ck it is."
Basically, he adds, "The sky’s the limit.” And Fatone, it seems, is just getting started.
Image: IFC Films