“There's a side of my personality that goes completely against the East Coast educated person and wants to be a pin-up girl in garages across America...there’s a side that wants to wear the pink angora bikini!” Mira Sorvino
Academy Award-winning actress Mira Sorvino was shot to stardom with her critical-acclaimed, scene-stealing turn as bleached-blonde, blasphemous, squeaky-voiced prostitute Linda in Woody Allen’s Mighty Aphrodite (1995), for which she was garnered with many praises and netted numerous Awards, including an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award. The character actor has since played roles in the box office films the comedy Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997, earned a MTV Movie nomination), the thriller Mimic (1997) and the romance At First Sight (1999). On television, Sorvino received raves reviews for her roles as a Brazilian-born mogul in the mini “The Buccaneers” (1995), Marilyn in Norma Jean and Marilyn (1996, earned an Emmy and Golden Globe nods) and the agent in Human Trafficking (2005, received a Golden Globe nomination).
Recently starring opposite Stephen Dorff in the miniseries thriller “Covert One: The Hades Factor” (2006), the bright brown-haired Sorvino will costar with Gabriel Byrne in Russian film Leningrad (2006) for director Aleksandr Buravsky.
Off screen, 34 1/2-24-35 Sorvino was named one of People magazine’s “50 most beautiful people in the world in 1996. The Mandarin Chinese and French fluent actress is a political activist associated with Amnesty International and a jury member at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival. As for her love life, she was formerly linked to director Quentin Tarantino (together 1996 - February 1998) and actor Olivier Martinez (dated in1999-2002) before ultimately marrying her fiancé-actor Christopher Backus. Sorvino and her husband of two years Backus have two children, daughter Mattea Angel (born in 2004) and son Johnny (born in 2006).
Magna Cum Laude
Childhood and Family:
Daughter of veteran American actor Paul Sorvino and therapist Lorraine Davis, Mira Katherine Sorvino was born on September 28, 1967, in Tenafly, New Jersey. She showed great interest on acting at a very young, but her father discouragement prevented her to pursue the career early. As a result, she focused on her academic studies. Mira developed her passion by participating on school plays while in high school, and later at the prestigious Harvard Univesity, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1990 with a degree in East Asian Studies. Shortly after graduation, she spent a year to learn Mandarin Chinese language in Beijing and returned to America to begin her acting career in New York. Mira has a brother named Michael and is older sister to playwright Amanda.
As for her private life, Mira tied the knot with actor Christopher Backus (born October 30, 1981) on June 11, 2004, about 10 months after their first meeting at a friend’s charades party. The two fell in love at the first sight and became engaged a month later. She recalled, “He walked into the kitchen looking for silverware. We saw each other and something made us want to talk to each other more.” Mira and Backus share two children: daughter Mattea Angel (born on November 3, 2004) and son Johnny (born on May 29, 2006).
The daughter of an actor, Mira Sorvino was banned from becoming a child actor and concentrated on her education instead. Despite her parent’s worries, she was discovered on numerous student plays throughout high school and university before eventually heading for the bright of New York to begin acting professionally. During her hard time in New York, Sorvino refused to benefit her father’s fame and found herself taking various jobs, including as a waitress and production assistant as well as script reader for the Robert De Niro production company Tribeca. Her first acting job arrived in 1992 when she landed roles in the short-lived syndicated teen serial “Swan Crossing” and the CBS daytime soap “Guiding Light,” where she was cast as Julie Camalleti. Believing there would be more excellent opportunities lay just ahead, Sorvino declined a three-year deal in the latter.
Her decision was right since in the following year she was offered her first film role in the Rob Weiss acclaimed independent movie Amongst Friends, in which she also served as an associate producer. Finely playing Laura, Sorvino earned good reviews from critics that led to her subsequent roles.
Sorvino then starred in The Dutch Master (1994), a comic fantasy short helmed by Susan Seidelman, and as a modern-day Mary in The Second Greatest Story Ever Told (1994, TV), before getting her first larger film role as mysterious noble Spanish translator Marta in Barcelona (1994) for director Whit Stillman. Still in 1994, the impressed director Robert Redford landed her a first mainstream exposure with a supporting part as Rob Morrow’s Jewish intellectual wife in Quiz Show. She shared the screen with her father in the made-for-TV film Parallel Lives (1994) and was praised for her role as a 19th Century Brazilian tycoon who ties the knot with a bankrupt Englishman in the miniseries adaptation of Edith Wharton’s “The Buccaneers” (1995).
Sorvino’s big breakthrough came with her star-making turn as the squeaky-voiced, faded blonde hooker Linda in the Woody Allen comedy Mighty Aphrodite (1995). With the role, she won a number of accolades and was handed several awards like an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Broadcast Film Critics Association, a Dallas-Forth Worth Film Critics Association, a Southeastern Film Critics Association, a National Board of Review and a New York Film Critics Circle for Best Supporting Actress. She also received a Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA nominations. The huge success made Sorvino a recognizable face in Hollywood.
The brown-eyed actress followed it up with a small part as the young lady in the improvisational film Blue in the Face (1995), Ted Demme’s ensemble comedy Beautiful Girls (1996, as the long-suffering bulimic girlfriend of Matt Dillon), Jake’s Women (1996, TV) and the independent films Tarantella and Sweet Nothing (both 1996). Sorvino took home an Emmy and Golden Globe nods after starring as Marilyn Monroe in the HBO movie Norma Jean and Marilyn (1996), opposite Ashley Judd who was cast as Jean, before stepping back into the mainstream film with the box office hit comedy Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997), where she shared a MTV Movie nomination for Best Dance Sequence, with Lisa Kudrow and Alan Cumming. Venturing into horror genre, she scored a victory by having a lead opposite Jeremy Northam as bright entomologist whose mutant creations menace NYC in the Guillermo del Toro blockbuster flick Mimic (1997).
1998-99 saw roles in the disappointing The Replacement Killers (1998, with international star Chow Yun-Fat), Too Tired to Die (1998, helmed by Korean director Wonsuk Chin), Auster’s solo directorial debut Lulu on the Bridge (1998, memorably played Celia Burns), Free Money (1998), the Irwin Winkler successful romance At First Sight (1999, played Val Kilmer’s girlfriend) and Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam (1999, as John Leguizamo’s spouse Dionna). She returned to TV film by starring with Toby Stephens as Daisy Buchanan in the A&E drama The Great Gatsby (2000) and made her theatrical debut in NYC with the off-Broadway play “Naked,” along side Daniel Benzali. In 2001, she produced and had a cameo role as herself in the mockumentary Lisa Picard Is Famous, played a princess who hides as a male in the Toronto and San Sebastian-premiered The Triumph of Love (released theatrically in America in 2002), as well as costarred with Harvey Keitel in the holocaust-theme based The Grey Zone, directed by Tim Blake Nelson.
The next years Sorvino was seen along with Mariah Carey in the female mafia crime feature Wisegirls (2002), playing an American investigator sent to Spain in Semana Santa (2002), teaming up with Sophia Loren and Deborah Kara Unger in the heartfelt drama Between Strangers (2002) and as Jeff Daniels’ spirited wife Fanny in the Gettysburg prequel Gods and Generals (2003). Following a guest appearance as Diane, Leo’s ex and the only lady who ever slept with Will in one episode of “Will & Grace” (2003), she went back acting in the starring role as Delila in the thriller The Final Cut (2004), opposite Robin Williams and James Caviezel.
In 2005, Sorvino once again became the center of interest when she was cast as Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Kate Morozov in the granular Lifetime network film Human Trafficking, for which she was nominated a Golden Globe nomination for the role. She recently starred as Rachel Russel in the miniseries “Covert One: The Hades Factor” (2006), a thriller which also starred Stephen Dorff, Blair Underwood and Sophia Myles. Moviegoers should look forward for her impressive performance in the forthcoming drama Leningrad (2006). The Russian-produce film will team Sorvino with director/writer Aleksandr Buravsky as well as actor Gabriel Byrne.