Interview: Mira Sorvino on her Oscar win, her activism and enjoying a second act with ‘Hollywood’ [VIDEO]
Mira Sorvino is ready for her close-up. But this time on her terms.
After winning an Oscar for her first big screen role, in 1995’s Mighty Aphrodite, Mira Sorvino had a new career open up for her. Never wanting to repeat herself, the next few years saw her as Marilyn Monroe in Norma Jean & Marilyn (for which she was Emmy-nominated), a stunted adult in the cult classic Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion with Lisa Kudrow, an entomologist in Guillermo del Toro’s killer creature flick Mimic and a forger in Antoine Fuqua’s The Replacement Killers with Chow-Yun Fat. Sorvino hit every genre possible and nailed it every time. And this was all after she had graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1989, with a Bachelor’s degree in Chinese (East Asian Languages and Civilizations), writing her thesis about racial conflict in China.
Before starring in the Golden Globe-nominated miniseries Human Trafficking, Sorvino was actively involved in campaigning against sex trafficking around 2005 after working with Amnesty International. With her activism firmly in place, after the show aired Sorvino became a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador to Combat Human Trafficking. “Traffickers and pimps lure children in foster care, homeless teens, trans teens and others who are vulnerable,” she said. “These people are experts at targeting them.”
Recently, she’s been able to become very outspoken about her treatment in the industry and of those close to her as part of the #MeToo movement when Harvey Weinstein began his fall from grace. It was because of the movement that Sorvino helped spark, that she was able to speak for the first time about an Oscar-winning director who propositioned her for sex during a meeting and that a casting director gagged her with a condom when she was just 16. She detailed that Weinstein tried to blacklist her and her Norma Jean & Marilyn co-star Ashley Judd from A-list Hollywood movies. “It was a very tumultuous Fall for all of us who decided to speak out, and we had no idea where it was going to go. And it’s blossomed into something that’s really powerful, and really beautiful, and I’m proud to be a part of it,” she said.
In Ryan Murphy’s Netflix series Hollywood, which follows a group of aspiring actors and filmmakers in post-World War II, Sorvino plays Jeanne Crandall, a middle-aged actress who never quite hit it big, who was relegated to a studio head’s mistress and was never given her due. Throughout the series, Jeanne remains thoughtful and kind, and ultimately truthful when she comes clean about her affair to his wife. This moment, between Sorvino and Broadway legend Patti LuPone is such a different take on how women in television and film could treat each other in the worst of moments. Even more, a scene later on with LuPone and Holland Taylor provides a beautiful moment of women lifting each other up instead of kicking each other down. It gives Sorvino one of her best moments on screen, any screen, ever.
Hollywood stars Darren Criss, Jim Parsons (interview), Holland Taylor (interview), Dylan McDermott, Patti LuPone (interview), Joe Mantello, David Corenswet, Jeremy Pope (interview), Laura Harrier, Michelle Krusiec (interview), Samara Weaving, Jake Picking (interview) and more.
In my hour-long interview with Sorvino, we talk about how the COVID pandemic has affected her personally (including losing her beloved mentor, the legendary acting teacher Wynn Handman, to the virus), her Oscar win and what it meant for her career (plus her dad’s reaction!), Romy and Michele (of course) and a great deal about how important her activism in the realm of human trafficking is. Her knowledge and passion is endless and admirable and we spend a good amount of time unpacking the very real truths of this sinister money-making enterprise. We close talking at length about her role in Hollywood, the inspirations for Jeanne Crandall and what it means to her to tell positive stories that lift viewers up.
Hollywood is currently streaming exclusively on Netflix.