Beautiful Oscar winner Mira Sorvino will show us two sides of her, as a costume-laden comedienne in the lavish comedy Triumph of Love, and later this year in the powerful Holocaust drama The Gray Zone. Will the real Ms Sorvino please stand up? Paul Fischer tried to find out when he met the actress in Los Angeles.
Question: Was it the romanticism of Triumph Of Love that appealed to you?
Answer: I think the diversity of the roles offered by the film interested me. I became won over by the romanticism as the factor to do it, because initially I thought what an incredible tour de force role to take on. In fact, it’s almost four roles. I get to try and be a man. I also worried that the character was really unlikeable because of the dastardly things she does in her pursuit of her goal. Clare convinced me that it’s just love, and that kind of pardons a lot of sins. It is a very romantic story and you can get swept up in what would you do for love. What lengths would you go to? What hearts would you trod over in order to get that true love, that lifetime of happiness?
Question: Have you ever gone to extremes like that?
Answer: No, I’ve never masqueraded as a man to win someone’s heart. I’m more of a guilt-ridden person. My mother and father’s upbringing made me very conscious of trying not to hurt other people so I would not be able to do that sort of triple seduction thing and convince the other people that I love them. I couldn’t get with that.
Question: Do you feel pressure since it’s being advertised as Academy Award-winner, Mira Sorvino?
Answer: It seems that they do that whenever somebody who has won an Academy Award is in a movie. It seems that they do that in every announcement. The Oscars have become such a big deal these days that it’s just used as adjective.
Question: Is it affecting the parts you get offered?
Answer: I think it must to a certain extent just because it was an early accolade that I greatly appreciated, did not expect, and I guess people do tend to respect people because of that. Maybe I would not have been offered the breadth of roles that I have been. People may not have felt I was capable of doing characters that were not like the other characters I had played, had I not won the award. Something like this character is not like any other part that I’ve played on screen. It’s like things I played in high school, on stage. I’d never done anything this far back in history. The earliest I’ve ever done was the 19th century. I actually did play a boy twice before. I think now that the big impact of it has worn off and now I’m back to business as usual. I think maybe, unconsciously, I sort of shied away from the traditional expectations that are placed upon an Oscar winning actress. The year after I won the Oscar, I did anything but the kind of movie that would be thought of as being an Oscar-calibre movie for the next year. I wasn’t in the pursuit of “let me stay in the race.” I was like let me do a crazy teenage comedy, I just sort of went off and did fun things which was totally unexpected, and perhaps not wise. But now I think I’m actually doing things that are more artistic again, more close to the material that I love, although I don’t disparage those things that I did. There just not as much reflective of who I am.
Question: You wouldn’t want to do another silly comedy?
Answer: I’d do “Romy and Michelle” again. I’d do a “Romy and Michelle 2.” I’d be happy to do that.
Question: But not “Mimic 2?”
Answer: That was against my grain to do it. I wanted to try something that I was afraid of, in a way. I’d always been afraid of the horror genre even as an audience member. It was more of an experiment, walking into a different genre, rather than something that was close to me. I’m not saying I’d never do another horror movie, but I don’t like playing fear. It’s the least enjoyable of all the actable emotions because it’s hard to produce. In real life, fear is a short-lived emotion. It’s like an adrenaline-based emotion. You get scared of something quickly and then soon you know whether you are in danger, or not. To recreate that fear feeling again and again for 3 months was very taxing and kind of depressing.
Question: You play a multitude of characters and genders in this film. What are the particularly unique challenges you face and how do you go about being convincing.
Answer: I basically did a lot of preparation on the movie on many different fronts. Specifically for the male character, I worked on the physical side of it – of trying to walk in a more masculine way. To walk with my shoulders thrown back and my sternum up, instead of the vulnerable, sort of hiding one’s self position that women often take. Legs further apart, and a stride rather than a step. I went to the museum and looked at the 18th century room and saw the wild poses that the men would take. I threw some of them into the characterization just because they were fun. Whether or not people actually stood or kneeled that way, it was sort of a tip of the hat to that exaggerated, courtly look. They would have one hand ready for their sword and the other for the fair maiden. There was the voice, studying men around me trying to see what made them masculine. I felt like this is also fun, it should be fun, because we know that she’s a woman. So part of the comedy comes from watching her over do it, or mess up. I tried to make it a bit of a caricature of a macho guy. There was a little bit of John Malkovich in “Dangerous Liaisons” a little bit of Tom Jones, Albert Finney, a little bit of Captain Kirk. There is Captain Kirk in there because he’ll walk on to any planet, and be very bold, very stating his case, and seducing every alien woman possible. I thought that that worked.
Question: Did you rehearse much for this?
Answer: Rehearsals started in August for about 2 ½ to 3 weeks in Paris. We worked together with Clare one-on-one, then I worked with Jay and Clare, and I worked with Fiona and Clare. Ben, I didn’t meet until the day he arrived on the set three weeks into the movie. In between the rehearsal period and the beginning of the shoot, I had to go off and shoot “The Grey Zone.” There could not have been two more different sets or movies.
Question: The film has a real fantasy feel.
Answer: I think that was the key in the preparation of it, was really working on the fantasy of a love that transforms your whole life and your entire hopes for the future. And just making it the dearest aspiration of your heart is like the fulfilment of this love and that would change your whole world. Doing that, it made me get behind her actions and her plan and I could have enthusiasm for all of it because there was urgency because I needed to get to the Prince. That fuelled everything. That was the key to the character – that love underneath it.
Question: Your character is the only one who keeps her wits about while she is in love.
Answer: That’s because I’ve got a purpose and they’re unsuspecting. The reason she chooses those means, originally she’s trying to do the least damage possible, but as soon as they start trying to throw her out and they’re almost rude in their way of doing it, she’s like, “Okay, if you are going to force me to go to Plan B, then I’ll go to Plan B.” She knows how love has made her so determined that she’ll do anything. She knows that she’ll get her way with them if she makes them love her because they’ll lose their reason, too. But she’s pulling the strings. She’s got one up on them because she loves the third person.