Mira Sorvino

Mira Sorvino Biography.com

Actress, Activist, Producer, Film Actor/Film Actress, Women's Rights Activist, Film Actress, Television Actress(1967–)
Mira Sorvino is an Academy Award-winning actress who starred in Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite.


Actress Mira Sorvino was born in New York City on September 28, 1967. Daughter of actor Paul Sorvino, Mira's breakthrough film was Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite, which earned her the Academy Award for best supporting actress. Sorvino supports human rights causes and has worked with Amnesty International. She's married to actor Christopher Backus, and they have four children.

Early Life

Actress, producer and activist Mira Sorvino was born on September 28, 1967, in New York City. During her three decades as a performer, actress Mira Sorvino has played an impressive mix of roles, from a bubbly prostitute to a scientist, from a master forger to Marilyn Monroe. She may have inherited some of her acting ability from her father, Paul Sorvino, a veteran performer best known for his many seasons on the popular television crime drama, Law & Order.

Sorvino was also strongly influenced by her mother to pursue social causes. "My mom marched on Washington with Martin Luther King. That my mom, a white middle-class lady, was moved enough to get involved in the civil rights movement made an enormous impression," she later explained to People magazine.

A bright student, she excelled at school. While a student at Harvard University, Sorvino wrote her thesis on racial conflict in China. She had spent a year in China as part of a study abroad program and became fluent in Mandarin.

After earning a degree in East Asian studies, Sorvino directed a documentary on anti-Semitism in Russia. She also worked a number of jobs, including serving as a production assistant and a script reader for Robert De Niro. Before long, she decided to pursue acting as a career. Sorvino had done some acting in school, but her father had discouraged her from taking up his profession. "I think he just didn't want rejection as the mainstay of his children's diet," she told Redbook magazine.

Aspiring Actress

For several years, Sorvino struggled to make it as a performer. She had a role in the short-lived syndicated teen serial Swans Crossing in 1992. When that ended, Sorvino landed a role on the soap opera Guiding Light, but she turned down a three-year contract there in the hope that better opportunities laid ahead. She made her film debut in 1993's Amongst Friends, an independent drama. The following year she played Rob Morrow's intellectual wife in Quiz Show (1994), directed by Robert Redford and starring Ralph Fiennes.

Sorvino's breakthrough role was Linda Ash, the squeaky-voiced, bleached blonde prostitute with a heart of gold in Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite (1995). She auditioned for the part twice. The first time she was rejected because she was not "sexual" enough. Undeterred, Sorvino met again with Allen while the two were both in London. She came to the meeting dressed provocatively and using a distinctive voice. Her efforts paid off -- Allen gave her the role. Sorvino was anxious during the filming. "I was absolutely neurotic doing Mighty Aphrodite. Every night brought a new nervous breakdown. I'd cry and talk to God, I was so nervous. Then the next day, I'd show up and do my scenes," she told Los Angeles magazine.

Sorvino received numerous accolades for her work in Mighty Aphrodite, including the 1996 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. At the ceremony, her father shed tears of joy when she was announced as the winner. Her then-boyfriend, filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, was also on hand to cheer her on. Sorvino followed up her win with her portrayal of blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe in HBO's Norma Jean and Marilyn (1996), co-starring Ashley Judd as the legendary sex symbol's more timid side. She received an Emmy Award nomination for her work.

Mainstream Success

On the big screen, Sorvino tackled projects in a variety of genres, from thrillers, to comedy, to action films. She co-starred with Lisa Kudrow in the comedy Romy and Michele's High School Reunion. Next, Sorvino starred as an entomologist in the 1997 thriller Mimic, directed by Guillermo del Toro, which received poor reviews and a tepid reception from movie goers. Working with legendary martial artist Chow Yun Fat, Sorvino tried her hand as an action film heroine in 1998's The Replacement Killers, playing a forger who gets mixed up with a hitman.

Turning to more serious fare, Sorvino appeared as John Leguizamo's wife in Spike Lee's Summer of Sam (1999). She also explored life behind the camera, serving as a producer on 2000's dramatic comedy Lisa Picard Is Famous, a mockumentary that follows a young actress on the verge of stardom. In early 2001, Sorvino starred as Daisy Buchanan in A&E's adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Jazz Age classic, The Great Gatsby, co-starring Paul Rudd.

Recent Work

In 2002, Sorvino had a supporting role in the critically acclaimed Holocaust drama The Grey Zone, directed by Tim Blake Nelson. She also appeared opposite Sofia Loren in the drama Between Strangers that same year. Before long, Sorvino found a project that appealed to her interest in social justice. She starred in the 2005 miniseries Human Trafficking with Donald Sutherland, which explored the lives of women and children who have been abducted and forced into various forms of slavery.

Sorvino felt that taking on the role would allow her to "marry my personal interests and my social-activist concerns with an acting job, and that almost never happens," Sorvino told Interview magazine. "I've been working with Amnesty International for a couple of years now as their Stop Violence Against Women spokesperson, and the issue of global trafficking of women and girls -- has been a major focus. "

Alternating between commercial projects and independent films, Sorvino recently appeared in the television miniseries The Last Templar (2009) with Scott Foley and Victor Garber. She played an archaeologist who tries to a missing artifact. In the 2009 independent film Like Dandelion Dust, Sorvino stars opposite Barry Pepper as a married couple who struggle to keep their adopted child when the biological father seeks to gain custody.

In 2012, Sorvino starred with Dermot Mulroney in Trade of Innocents. They play a couple that joins the fight to end the trafficking of children after the loss of their own child. The film's subject matter is a personal cause for Sorvino. She has served as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime for many years. 

Sorvino has also found success on the small screen. In 2014, she had recurring roles on the science fiction thriller Falling Skies and the comedic crime show Psych.

Sorvino has been married to actor Christopher Backus in June 2004. The couple has four children, daughters Mattea and Lucia, and sons Johnny and Holden.

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