[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.]
One memorable member of the Portakalous family has a major moment in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.
Angelo, the comical cousin played by Joey Fatone, comes out as gay to his family and introduces them to his partner.
Though the scene in the Universal sequel is short and mostly free of dialogue, it was an important one for writer and star Nia Vardalos to include.
“Our gay and lesbian brethren and sisters are ten percent, if not more, of the population, including in my own family,” she told reporters. “When my cousins came out, the love that came at them was so intense and unconditional, that I thought, ‘This is just my chance to put in a little message of acceptance.'”
“It’s a way of showing, ‘My family is your family,'” she continued. “And isn’t it time that we just had this moment treated with a shrug and a smile?”
Before the initial table read, another cast member approached Fatone and asked what he thought of the reveal, but he had yet to read it and started to panic: “What happens? Do I die?!” he recalled.
But the former *NSYNC member was completely on board for Angelo’s arc. “It’s quite an honor to give me something like that, because not many people see the non-comedy side of me,” he said, adding that he drew from the coming-out experience of one of his best friends. “It’s a hard situation because you don’t know what your parents are gonna say or do, and you don’t want to be rejected. You love them. How do you deal with that?”
Shooting the scene “was a really special moment,” said director Kirk Jones, who noted that the first few takes weren’t very good because Fatone “wasn’t there yet, emotionally.” After a break, “he just clicked in and delivered a beautiful, subtle performance.”
John Corbett called the move “smart” and noted that, upon watching the original 2002 film again after wrapping the sequel’s shoot, “I only see Joey’s character as gay now,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “With no intentions of Joey ever playing the character gay, it ties in — you’ll rewatch it and say, ‘Of course he’s gay!”
This article originally appeared in THR.com.