ATHENS, Greece - Nia Vardalos, star of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," stood under a big reflector on Saturday, filming a new romantic comedy among the dramatic ruins on the Acropolis.
The scene will appear in "My Life in Ruins," also starring Richard Dreyfuss, and follows a decision by Greek authorities to relax their ban on any commercial use of ancient sites.
Authorities vetted the script for historical accuracy and convened a panel of senior archaeologists to give final approval.
"Imagine how I feel being here shooting a movie ... I can't believe things like this can happen to me," Vardalos said late Friday before the Acropolis shoot.
Released in 2002, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" was a surprise international hit and earned Vardalos an Oscar writing nomination.
On Saturday, dozens of tourists gathered round a tiny set to take pictures of Vardalos. The 45-year-old Canadian actress plays a tour guide and has already been filmed at Delphi and Ancient Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic games - a big deal for a girl brought up Greek.
Director Donald Petrie denied suggestions the script was watered down to secure access to ancient sites, saying restrictions to protect monuments were obvious.
"If the script had had a paintball war in ancient Olympia, I think they would have said no," he said.
"The only major restriction for us is that we treat the sites as they are. We don't bring in fake Roman columns," he said, smiling.
The love interest for the film is Alexis Georgoulis, an actor in a local television series.
"It's a romantic comedy, and we wanted a Greek actor who was experienced but not necessarily well known internationally," Vardalos said. "We found Alexis Georgoulis. He's a great kisser, a great actor and a great guy."
Dreyfuss said he had always wanted to come to Greece and was enjoying his time here.
"This (movie) is about the ever present possibility of love," Dreyfuss said.
"My Life in Ruins" is the first major project helped by the Hellenic Film Commission, recently created by Greece's Culture Ministry to lure international filmmakers to Greece.
On the Net:
Hellenic Film Commission: http://www.hfco.gr/