Nia Vardalos at the Acropolis

Nia Vardalos, the 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 a longstanding ban on any commercial use of ancient sites. Authorities vetted the film 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 nomination for its script. 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. «I’m just a girl from Winnipeg. I write these ideas and somehow they happen,» said Vardalos, who co-wrote the new movie. «I have cousins from America, from Australia and we all met up here. I have so many memories of being here.» Director Donald Petrie denied suggestions the script had been watered down to secure access to ancient sites. «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 story revolves around the character that Vardalos plays who has actually somewhat lost her passion. She has led so many tours with so many tourists who don’t care… and it’s depressed her beyond belief,» Petrie said. «Through (one) group of tourists… she is almost taught to rediscover her passion.» The love interest for the film was found in Alexis Georgoulis, an actor popular in Greece. «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 try and lure international filmmakers to Greece. «Even small African countries had film commissions. But not Greece,» said the commission’s Markos Holevas. «This is our first effort,» he said. «We will get organized and provide tax breaks and do what everyone else does.» «My Life in Ruins» is due for release next year.