This Italianate beauty is the
daughter of the considerably more prosaic veteran character man Paul Sorvino. Adept at
assuming accents and varied ethnic identities, Sorvino received her first substantial
exposure on film as an enigmatic Spanish translator in Barcelona (1994), Whit Stillman's
thoughtful comic talkfest. She entered the mainstream later that same year playing the
Jewish intellectual wife of Rob Morrow in Robert Redford's Quiz Show.
Redford first became aware of the young performer in Amongst Friends (1993), a highly regarded independent feature at the Sundance Film Festival. The enterprising Harvard grad (a major in East Asian Studies) also served as associate producer, third assistant director, and casting director in that modest drama about well-to-do suburban Jews who fall into lives of crime. Sorvino has also worked in theater and TV and has starred in a Susan Seidelman-directed short ("The Dutch Master") and portrayed a modern-day Mary in another irreverent short, "The Second Greatest Story Ever Told" (both 1993).
Sorvino had a breakthrough year in 1995 and demonstrated her chameleon-like capabilities and versatility in three very different roles. She won acclaim for her role as a 19th Century Brazilian-born beauty who marries an impoverished Englishman in the TV adaptation of Edith Wharton's "The Buccaneers" (shown on PBS' "Masterpiece Theatre"). She appeared briefly as a blonde in the improvisational film Blue in the Face. And she delivered a star-making portrayal as a bleached-blonde, foul-mouthed stripper who has given up a child for adoption in Woody Allen's romantic comedy Mighty Aphrodite. Sorvino followed with the ensemble comedy Beautiful Girls (1996) and the HBO biopic "Norma Jean and Marilyn" (1996) in which she co-starred as Marilyn Monroe.