What the Hell Happened to Mira Sorvino?
Mira Sorvino, daughter of character actor Paul Sorvino, scored an Oscar and a Golden Globe in her first major role. Five years later, her career had cooled to the point where she was doing TV movies.
What the hell happened?
Sorvino got her start on the syndicated soap opera, Swans Crossing in 1992. The teen drama, which starred Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Sarah Michelle Gellar, aired daily for 13 weeks for a total of 65 episodes. Sorvino appeared in 6 of them.
The next year, Sorvino was hired as a third assistant director on the low-budget crime drama, Amongst Friends. Gradually, Sorvino was bumped up to casting director and eventually assistant producer. As a resulted, she landed a role for herself as well as roles for family members.
In 1994, Sorvino appeared in a few projects. Among them was a supporting role in Whit Stillman’s Barcelona, the second film in a trilogy of high-minded social comedies.
Sorvino played a “party girl” one of the main characters meets at a bar. It was a small role in an arty independent films. But it helped get Sorvino noticed.
Barcelona got good reviews and did respectable box office.
Later that year, Sorvino played Rob Morrow’s wife in Robert Redford’s biographical drama, Quiz Show. Quiz Show was about a scandal in the 50’s around a rigged TV game show.
Morrow played the investigator who brought the show down. Once again, it was a small role in a prestigious movie.
The following year, Sorvino’s career was changed forever when Woody Allen cast her in a supporting role in his latest comedy.
In Mighty Aphrodite, Allen plays a father who becomes obsessed with finding the biological mother of his bright adopted son. Eventually, he discovers that the boy’s mother is a prostitute played by Sorvino and he takes it upon himself to set her up with a nice guy. The entire comedy is played as a satire of Greek tragedy including a Greek chorus.
Mighty Aphrodite got good reviews and did decent box office for a Woody Allen movie. Come awards season, it got a few nominations for Allen’s screenplay. But Sorvino cleaned up. She won an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a whole mess of critics’ awards.
All that recognition is really quite remarkable considering that 1) Woody Allen was hardly a starmaker in 1995 and 2) Sorvino played the part with an annoying helium voice.
I think the Academy embraced Woody returning to more light-hearted material like Mighty Aphrodite. And Sorvino seemed like a fetching, fresh-faced starlet in the making. If nothing else, she deserved the award for kissing Woody Allen.