How Mindy Kaling Adapted ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ for Hulu

When Four Weddings and a Funeral premiered in 1994, TV was still broadcast via antennas and movies were rented on VHS tape at the video store. 25 years later, viewers subscribe to streaming services like Hulu, which also stream movies into the home along with other VOD services. The world in which Mindy Kaling adapted Four Weddings and a Funeral into a Hulu original series is quite different than the one in which the film written by Richard Curtis and directed by Mike Newell debuted.

Tracey Wigfield and Mindy Kaling of ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ | Rich Fury/Getty Images

Hulu presented a panel for Four Weddings and A Funeral to the Television Critics Association. Kaling was on the panel and spoke about how she adapted the movie, of which she may be the biggest fan. She promised to include four weddings and one funeral at some point over the course of 10 episodes. Four Weddings and a Funeral premieres Wednesday, July 31 on Hulu.

Mindy Kaling made ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ Diverse

Four Weddings and a Funeral is a classic, and we wouldn’t change a thing about it. It is, however, a very Caucasian movie. One update Mindy Kaling could add was a more diverse cast. 

“When MGM approached me about it, I was thinking, ‘Well, what would make it worth it would be to probably show a love story through the lens that I would like to see a love story, which is an African-American woman and a British-Pakistani man falling in love,’” Kaling said. “From then, it just got really exciting.”

Mindy Kaling, Nathalie Emmanuel and Nikesh Patel
B(L-R) Mindy Kaling, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Nikesh Patel | Andrew Toth/Getty Images for Hulu

Sorry, Hugh Grant, there was just no room for a Hugh Grant type in this Four Weddings and a Funeral.

“One thing I didn’t want to do is a have a floppy-haired British guy. No one told you that,” Kaling said. “Hugh Grant at that age, with floppy hair, looking like that, is so iconic  to romantic comedies, for his own career. There’s other ways of being really sexy that you see in the show, and new ways to be iconic, and we didn’t want to have that guy. We don’t want unfavorable comparisons and the original did it so well. And, it makes room for a lot of other really fascinating, funny characters.”

‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ is diverse beyond the love story too

Casting Nathalie Emmanuel and Nikesh Patel as the central lovers in Four Weddings and a Funeral was huge. Casting Brandon Mychal Smith as his friend adds even more layers.

“There are things that are like gentle subversions,” Kaling said. “I have never seen a movie where a British-Pakistani man and an African-American man are best friends at work, and they work in finance. That is a thing you see all the time and it’s a certain type of Wolf of Wall Street type of situation.”

Brandon Mychal Smith
Four Weddings and A Funeral — Craig (Brandon Mychal Smith), shown. | Ollie Upton/Hulu

Don’t underestimate how important it is to represent diversity in every aspect of a show. 

“We have these two characters, Craig and Kash, and they’re so enjoyable and you think, why haven’t we seen this before?” Kaling said. “The fact that the characters do not seem to have these racial boundaries that I think we often see as show creators in other shows, was really refreshing. I wanna keep doing that. I really love that.”

‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ was diverse behind the scenes too

It wasn’t only in the casting that Kaling championed diversity on Four Weddings and a Funeral. You’ll never see the diverse writers who crafted the show, but you will feel them. 

“We talk about gender parity which we, of course, had on this with so many female writers,” Kaling said. “Also we had race parity and a ton of British writers because we were telling the story, obviously, from Nathalie’s point of view.” 

She found the B stories in ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’

Hugh Grant and Andie Macdowell were on the poster for Four Weddings and a Funeral, and the movie focuses on their connection over the course of five events. 10 hours gives the other characters a chance to have their own love stories too. 

“The relationship, obviously, between Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell is the romantic story,” Kaling said. “But to me, the real story is about the friendship and the relationship with him and his brother and the charming way that they have a shorthand with each other. That, to me, is why I wanted to do this.

“Friendships that look like the friendships I have with my friends that are filled with people who look like that, I don’t get to see. But the essence of the friendships that he had in his incredible cast in his film, we wanted to share that with these guys.”

Mindy Kaling
Tracey Wigfield and Mindy Kaling of ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’| Rich Fury/Getty Images

Even in her previous shows like The Office and The Mindy Project, half-hour comedies didn’t leave much time for supporting characters.

“When you write for a half-hour show, there are tertiary characters who are there for jokes and for laughs, who are incredible actors, who we would want to have stories.,” Kaling said. “Tertiary characters on our series are actors like Alex Jennings, who is incredible. So we were able to tell a full love story for him, including our four leads, which was great.”

Some things Mindy Kaling would never change about ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’

Even though it’s 2019 and Mindy Kaling has her own unique voice, there are some aspects of Four Weddings and a Funeral that are canon. She would never try to adapt them away from the show.

“There’s so much that’s so good and original in it, like the relationship he has with his younger brother who is hearing impaired,” Kaling said. “I think the speech at the funeral, [it’s] iconic in film.”

The creator of ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ approves

Four Weddings and a Funeral was the beginning of the Richard Curtis romantic comedy legacy which includes Notting Hill, Love Actually, About Time and this summer’s Yesterday. Kaling wasn’t going to do Four Weddings and a Funeral without asking Curtis first.

“Steve Stark, who is the brilliant head of MGM, he and I both thought that it would be foolish to embark on this without Richard’s blessing,” Kaling said. “Matt [Warburton, co-creator] and I had come up with an idea of our take on it. So, I met [Curtis] for lunch in New York, and then he came to the first table read, and he watches cuts. So, having him to be part of it was really important to all of us, because obviously, he’s the originator of the source material, and we admire him so much.”