The star of Union Square praises our Bronx talk, ponders the state of indie movies, and fondly recalls Guillermo del Toro’s cockroaches.
1. She thinks our actors could pass for Noo Yawkers.
When Sorvino visited Toronto last week to promote her new movie, Union Square, she made a stop at the Canadian Film Centre to critique some young actors who performed scenes from the film for her. Consequently, she got to hear a variety of takes on the Bronx accent she employed for her character, Lucy. As the 44-year-old actress admits, learning accents is never easy and she herself finds it a challenge. “You have to learn how they pronounce every syllable and vowel and consonant and then you have to practice until you’re seamless,” says the otherwise accent-free Sorvino. Nevertheless, the locals passed muster: “I was quite impressed with the Toronto Bronx accent.”
2. Real Manhattanites, however, are far nosier.
Directed by Nancy Savoca, Union Square is a scrappy indie drama that accomplishes a great deal with its obviously limited means. But Sorvino believes the scale was perfect for this intimate story of two sisters coping with their troubled family history. “I love the smallness of it,” she says. “I also love the fact that when we were shooting in Union Square, the camera was so small and the crew was so light that no one knew we were making a movie. [Passersby would] talk to us and get into things with us and that would end up in the movie. When I was in the middle of the square in the first scene, some guy yelled, ‘Nice skirt!’—I told him to shut up. Another woman ran up to me and asked me if I was okay because she saw me sobbing. Luckily the scene was pretty much finished, but I had to make the international sign for ‘we’re shooting a picture!’”
3. She knows it’s hard for an indie movie to catch a break.
Though Sorvino hasn’t made many studio flicks since her post-Oscar run of movies, which included the dearly cherished 1997 comedy, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, she’s still remarkably busy in the indie world. In addition to Union Square, she’s starred in nine films since 2010. If you haven’t seen any of them, well, that’s got a lot to do with the ferocious competition facing any movie these days. “It’s gotten tougher,” she says. “So many indie films are going straight to the on-demand market and not even playing in theatres. When I first started doing independent films, there were fewer around and more places for them to land. The theatrical thing is sort of dying on the vine and that’s a little depressing, but at the same time, there are so many ancillary markets now that I feel like people do see the work, even if it’s years down the line.”
4. She’s got a soft spot for mutant insects.
Long before last week’s workshop at the CFC, Sorvino spent several months in Toronto making Mimic, the 1997 thriller about mutant insects that was Guillermo del Toro’s first English-language feature. Though the movie’s post-production history was somewhat unhappy—long displeased with the Miramax-imposed theatrical version, del Toro released a director’s cut last year—Sorvino retains fond memories of her time here and of the film itself. “There’s a big fanbase for that one,” she says. “The genre people absolutely adore that film. It’s a hard one to stomach for some people because of the cockroaches, which I completely understand! But it is a very well-made film and I love Guillermo so much.”