Not every child of a Hollywood star cites their parent for their success, but Oscar winner Mira Sorvino gives credit where it's due. "Doing school plays when I was a little kid, my dad [Paul Sorvino, 79] would say, 'That was terrific! I just have a couple of notes,' and then sit me down for a two-hour breakdown of my performance," Mira, 50, exclusively told Closer Weekly, in the magazine's latest issue, on newsstands now. "I learned things that are crucial to this day."
Now she passes along wisdom to her own kids about overcoming rejection, something she faced when studio head Harvey Weinstein allegedly blacklisted her after she rejected his advances in the 90s. "If I would give up and not pursue [acting] anymore, what kind of lesson would that be for them?" she has asked. As Mira celebrates her acclaimed new series, Condor, and her 14th anniversary with actor-husband Christopher Backus, 36, the Romy and Michele star opened up to Closer about balancing work and motherhood and having "the courage of my convictions." Scroll down to read our exclusive Q&A interview with Mira!
It's great to see you on the AT&T Audience Network show Condor. What attracted you to the project?
The writers and showrunners did an incredible job updating the book, Three Days of the Condor, and the iconic 70s film [adaptation] with a completely modern feel.
You guest-star as another intelligence officer on Crackle's series StartUp.
Her personality and behavior are completely different, so that made it exciting and new. She has ADD and she's almost on the spectrum, but super smart.
One report called Condor your comeback… but you never left! How does that make you feel?
My father calls this a business of comebacks; whenever the crowd doesn't think they've seen you lately, your next success is seen as that.
What impact did your dad have on you wanting to act?
My grandparents used to have a saying in Italian, which meant "the art of the father is half-marked." Like how we see a lot of doctors' children become doctors. My dad really passed his craft to me. I'll always be grateful for all the direction he gave me when I was eight years old up until my late 20s, when I stopped going to him for acting advice. But I'll always go to him for life advice.
Did acting bond you two, especially after your parents divorced in 1988?
I don't know. Making him proud was such an integral part of our relationship, and it was a special passing of the torch. I always felt there was something honorable to his life — to show humanity in a clear, truthful way and move people. He was my hero, so it added more to our bond, but I think it would've been there [regardless].
What was the most important thing your father taught you?
That you have to be true to yourself and follow that inner voice in your heart. You have to look in the mirror each day and be OK with who you are and what you're doing, and have the courage to fail.
Mira and her husband, Christopher.
The directors of The Lord of the Rings and Bad Santa said how Harvey Weinstein and Miramax execs prevented you from getting roles. Whether it's blacklisting or just any actor's struggle with rejection, what's your inspiration to keep going?
I've always been a very hopeful, positive person. I have faith in God, the love of my family and I want to be a good role model for my kids. You have to push yourself for the next time and keep working as hard as you can.
Your husband is acting on Cinemax's Jett and other shows. How do you balance work and being parents to Mattea, 13, Johnny, 12, Holden, 9, and Lucia, 6?
I've been flying back and forth, trying to be there for all the school activities, performances, and games, and I'm running a little ragged. But I think once Christopher lands again, we will be able to share in it and it'll be good. Yesterday I had an overwhelmed mommy moment, and the kids were so sweet: "Mommy, it’s OK, we don't have to go to the trampoline place." I was like, "We're going — just having a moment!"
I try to do one-on-one days with each of them. When I'm not working, I'm a stay-at-home mom with no nanny or babysitter, unless it's date night. My mom [Lorraine Davis] was, so I'm trying to be ike her. It's schizophrenic, but it's how I get to spend the most time with them.
Mira and her family in 2011.
You turned 50 last September. What are the benefits of being your age?
Being more confident and comfortable with myself. Feeling I can decide upon something I feel strongly about and not be as worried about what others think. I'm also a lot less nervous. I've gotten over my shyness. Now I'm more outgoing and try to make other people feel at ease, which I never used to do.
Anything left on your to-do list?
I'd love to direct a film when my kids are in college. I’d also love to dance on Broadway, learn how to play guitar better, and get serious about writing songs like the ones my mother has composed. So there's a lot I look forward to doing — and I don't have plans to slow down anytime soon!
For more on Mira Sorvino, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for more exclusive news!