Mira Sorvino was born in September 1967 in
Tenafly, New Jersey. She
is the daughter of Lorraine and actor Paul Sorvino and has a brother and
a sister. She was raised very religiously. Her parents divorced when she
was 21. Mira became interested in China through the reading of The Good
Earth by Pearl S. Buck and a Chinese girlfriend with whom she spent
time in Chinatown. She graduated magna cum laude with a major in East Asian
Studies at Harvard University in 1990. For her thesis "Anti-Africanism
in the People's Republic of China" she spent eight months in China and
learned to speak Mandarin fluently. After Harvard, she had some part-time
jobs (as a waitress and teaching Chinese) and worked for some time as a
script reader for Robert De Niro's Tribeca Productions company. In 1993,
she became associate producer of Amongst Friends. She was Quentin
Tarantino's girlfriend for three years in the second half of the nineties.
Her new boyfriend is French actor Olivier Martinez (The Horseman on
the Roof) - according to an interview, Mira Sorvino also speaks French.
She is a very versatile actress who easily takes varied accents and
ethnic identities. In Whit Stillman's Barcelona (1994), Mira Sorvino
played a Catalan translator. She had a small part as the Jewish intellectual
wife of Rob Morrow in Robert Redford's Quiz Show
(1994). In her
breakthrough-year 1995, she played the Brazilian-born beauty Conchita Closson
in the BBC Miniseries "The Buccaneers" based on Edith Wharton's novel.
She also had a small part in Blue in the Face with Harvey Keitel.
But her best performance came with her role as naive porn-star Linda Ash/Judy
Cum in Woody Allen's comedy Mighty Aphrodite that earned her a Golden
Globe and an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress in 1995. Besides roles -
often as dumb blondes - in romantic films, she played in the science-fiction
Mimic and the action movie Replacement Killers.
In her current thriller Summer of Sam she stars as an Italian-American
Her filmography: Amongst Friends, Quiz Show, Parallel
Tarantella, Sweet Nothing, The Dutch Master, Blue in the Face, The Buccaneers,
New York Cop, Mighty Aphrodite, Jake's Women, Beautiful Girls, Norma Jean
and Marilyn, Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion, Mimic, Too Young
to Die, Lulu on the Bridge, The Replacement Killers, At First Sight, Summer
Mighty Aphrodite (1995)
Lenny Weinrib's wife Amanda (Helena Bonham Carter) wants to adopt a
child. She is about to open a new gallery and therefore does not have the
time to take a year off. First, sportsjournalist Lenny (Woody Allen) is
against it for the same reason he does not want to lease a car: pride of
ownership. But in the end, he gives in. Years pass and the child is a bright
student leading Lenny to believe that the boy's real mother must be a genius.
A funny moment comes when the son asks Lenny whether he or his mother Amanda
is the boss. Lenny: "I'm the boss, she's only the decision maker." Curiosity
and dissatisfaction with his marriage to the neurotic, self-absorbed Amanda
push Lenny to search for the biological mother.
The ancient Greeks tell Lenny to "let sleeping dogs die". But he is
stubborn, defeats a series of obstacles and finally finds the mother. But
Linda Ash is not the woman he had expected. She is a prostitute and p...
star under the name of Judy Cum. As they first meet, Lenny is so astonished
that he asks her three times if she is Linda Ash. That leads her to the
question whether he is "a stroke victim or something?" On his question
about her acting career she asks him: "Did you see The Enchanted Pu...?"
Her natural innocence is breathtaking. Lenny gets angy as she accepts a
phone offer by a female colleague for a part in another p... movie. Lenny:
"How do these s.. movies bring you closer to Broadway?" She gets mad at
him, too. Linda does not like possessive men. He comes in and tells her
what to do. Linda does not want any advice, gives him a "refund" and tells
him to "Get out!"
The Greeks tell him once more not to go any
further. But finally, Lenny
manages to get in contact with her again and they even become platonic friends. One day, she admits that she regrets giving away the baby which
came "to planet earth thanks to a broken condom". All this inspires Lenny
to help her find a husband and make a fresh start. He does it for his son
Max. His biological mother should be rather a hairdresser and married than
the star of "The Enchanted Pu...". But his methods and choices lead to
more trouble since he is "trying to play god", as the Greeks say. Among
the problems are her pimp and a dumb boxer Lenny choses as her boyfriend.
At the same time, Lenny's wife starts an affair ...
Woody Allen asked Mira Sorvino to create a voice for Linda but did not
tell her how. She just had to sound stupid. So Mira chose the high-pitched
dumb sounding voice that became so important for the movie's success. She
not want Linda to be too sexy and too successful as a s.. worker, but innocent,
natural and stupid - in contrast to her own preconception of the porn world
as dark and sleazy. Mira got the idea from a discussion with a p... star
who had been a school teacher before and who related in a natural way that
she was happy with her new job. With Linda as a happy and natural whore
who is not ashamed of her career, the character of Linda became very funny.
Aphrodite is not only one of the best Woody Allen film's but one of
the best comedies in recent years.
In an interview, Mira Sorvino said that she didn't believe in
fate: "You create your own destiny." But Allen's idea to introduce an ancient
Greek choir into the movie was a clever and (for the most part) funny way
to tell the story. Mighty Aphrodite was shot in ten weeks in locations
in Manhattan, the Upper East Side and elsewhere in New York City. For the
Greek choir, the set was the Teatro Greco in Italy's Taormina. Woody Allen
became acquainted with the place years ago when he presented Bananas
there at a filmfestival. Get
Aphrodite on DVD from Amazon.com
The Replacement Killers (1998)
Chinese immigrant John Lee (Chow Yun-Fat: Hard Boiled and The
Killer are just two of his over 70 films; his latest: Anna and the
King, together with Jodie Foster) is an efficient professional killer.
In a showdown, police detective Stan Zedkov (Michael Rooker: Tulsa
and Cliffhanger) had killed the son of a Chinese mafia boss. This
man, Mister Wei, seeks revenge and wants an outsider to kill Zedkov's seven
year old son in such a way that he dies in the arms of his father. The
boss asks Lee to do this last job in exchange for the future safe passage
of Lee's family from China to America. But Lee, in the last second, has
scruples and refuses to pull the trigger of his rifle which is aimed at
the son playing with his father. Now, he himself together with his mother
and sister are in mortal danger, too. He needs forged documents. A friend
tells him to go to Meg Coburn (Mira Sorvino). A shooting starts in her office, but John and Meg manage to
escape. By helping Lee, she becomes
an unwitting target herself. She gets arrested by police, does not cooperate
but gets released: now she is red meat. A race against time starts as the
Replacement Killers (one of the two is played by German star Till Schweiger)
arrive at the airport. The movie's title is a bad choice since the central
figures John Lee and Meg Coburn are not the replacement killers (these two guys have only a minor role in the film).
The Replacement Killers is African-American Antoine Fuqua's first
movie. He has become famous with his clip for Coolio's Gangsta's Paradise
that won him an MTV Video Music Award. Fuqua is a fan of John Woo (Hard
Boiled, The Killers and Face/Off) who is not only the
executive producer but who also "brought" with him his favourite actor
Chow Yun-Fat. Although the film was not a huge success, its images have
an undeniably aestethic quality and Fuqua may have a bright future in front
of him. There are some good scenes like "I wanna know what the hell is
going on" where action and emotions come together. Unfortunately, The
Replacement Killers is too much an action movie that lacks the capacity
to engage movie goers emotionally. The best scenes are in the beginning.
As the story unfolds, there is too much action and no humor. Get
theThe Replacement Killers on DVD from Amazon.com or from Amazon.co.uk
At First Sight
New York City architect Amy Benic (Mira
Sorvino) drives to a winter
resort in order to relax from her daily work. At night, approaching the town, she can see a lonely ice-skater on a
pond. The next day, she gets
a massage by Virgil (a reference to Roman poet Virgil? - Val Kilmer) which
relieves her and makes her cry. That happens often, he says. Ashamed, Amy
apologizes to him as he tries to catch the bus. Only now, she realizes
that he is blind and apologizes again. This is the beginning of a romantic
affair. Virgil teaches Amy to use all her senses again and fills the emotional
hole left by her unsensitive business partner and former husband who thinks
he deserves a second chance. As her former husband hears about the still
platonic affair, he says: "I know you love challenges, you've married me."
In her eyes, he has "the emotional content of a soap dish", as she confesses
to a friend at her office.
An article in Virgil's room on a new method to regain sight makes Amy
convince Virgil to undergo experimental surgery that will allow him to
see again. First, he is reluctant. As a child, he had suffered traumatic
experiences from empty promises in this direction. His father had played
a negative role by pushing him and afterwards letting him down. Virgil's
mother had died young. Furthermore, his father had abandoned the family
and left Virgil's education to his elderly sister (Kelly McGillis).
In the end, Virgil finds the courage to give it a try and goes with
Amy to New York City. He is lucky and the cataract surgery is a success although, in the
beginning, he has trouble understanding the frightening
world he has to learn to see like a child. The first thing he discovers
is a Coke. Not a very intelligent product placement, especially given the
fact that At First Sight is no romantic comedy. There is
no humor involved that would break the seriousness of the moment. Virgil
has a total lack of visual memory. Dramatic moments lie ahead of the two
- also for other reasons.
At First Sight is based upon a true story documented by Oliver
Sacks, the renowned physician and author of Awakenings. Director
Irwin Winkler (The Net) was not able to create a blockbuster movie.
His way to treat the subject was too serious. The absence of commercial
success is not necessarily synonymous with a good movie. In the case of
First Sight, its absence is no sign of great quality, either. But in
the beginning, it is a touching, sensitive and quiet movie. Val Kilmer
is convincing as a blind man and Mira Sorvino is always at her best when
she can use her innocent and cute smile. After Virgil moves to N.Y.C.,
the characters become more distant and movie goers are less attached to
them. Some details are less convincing, too. In their love scenes, Mira
shows no passion and seems even embarrassed. Last, in their ice-scating scene, one gets the impression that in fact Amy is the better
First Sight is above average but not great. Get
At First Sight on DVD from Amazon.comor from
Summer of Sam (1999)
Mira Sorvino's latest appearance is in Spike Lee's Summer of Sam
- a film based on the 1977 New York City random serial killings of brunettes
by David Berkowitz that created terror and paranoia especially among women
in the Big Apple and that got a lot of tabloid and other media attention.
The movie's title comes from the fact that Berkowitz called himself "Son
of Sam". In Lee's first film with a mostly white cast, Mira Sorvino plays
a fictional Italian-American housewife in the Bronx. As soon as the film
is released in Switzerland. [April 7, 2002: check our review
of Summer of Sam].