Who says you can’t do it all? Mira Sorvino finds a way to balance being a mom and an action star.
YOU COULD SAY LIFE looks awfully good from where Mira Sorvino sits, which right now is the inside of a seaside café that dangles miraculously from the edge of a cliff on the coastline of Morocco. She’s here, in a dusty middle-of-nowhere North African village, for the waning days of a nearly two-month movie shoot that has crossed several continents. Having survived the grueling experience, Sorvino seems downright giddy just to be intact.
She’s also clearly in her element, and her excitement about her new project is palpable. The movie, set to air this month as a two-part miniseries on NBC, is called The Last Templar. It’s based on the bestselling novel by Raymond Khoury, who cowrote the script with Suzette Couture. Sorvino stars as an archaeologist on an adventurous trek, and the varied-genre actress -- who has played a ditzy high school– reunion attendee and a brilliant scientist with equal aplomb -- gives another convincing performance.
“She’s fabulous,” says executive producer Robert Halmi Sr., who also worked with Sorvino on the film Human Trafficking. “She’s captivating as this tough archaeologist who can knock a guy down. It was demanding emotionally, but she pulled it off.”
The cast -- which also includes Scott Foley, Victor Garber, and Omar Sharif -- survived Moroccan temperatures that swelled to 126 degrees Fahrenheit and a swirling sandstorm that nearly shut down production. But Sorvino never balked. “It’s not often in an actor’s life you’re asked to helm one of these,” she says. “It’s this huge big-action adventure/romance/ drama/comedy. I’ve done so many different kinds of movies, but nothing quite like this.”
Sorvino certainly has made her fair share of flicks; at her busiest point, she made nine movies in three years, including The Replacement Killers, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, and Summer of Sam. After going full speed for so long, she took a much-deserved break from film.
“I just had to get away,” she says. “I felt I’d been working nonstop, just jumping from movie to movie.”
So she retreated to Europe for a time. Then, in 2004, she married baseball-player-turned-actor Christopher Backus, with whom she has had two children. Now that she’s a busy mom, Sorvino is being more selective about the roles she chooses, waiting for parts that best fit into her family life rather than trying to fit her family life into a movie shoot. Her approach seems to be working -- she already has three films set for release later this year.
“I’m in a great place,” Sorvino says, smiling. “I can only gauge it by how things are going for me and what I want out of life. What I want most is my family. My children are the best thing that’s ever happened to me. The fact that I’m doing interesting work is just icing on the cake. I guess I could have had a bigger career. But right now, it’s perfect.”
Mira Sorvino plays a whip-smart archaeologist in this month’s The Last Templar. The real-life Harvard grad has played a lot of similarly brilliant characters on TV and film -- and some less-savvy ones as well. We show where some of our favorites fall on the intelligence scale. -- K.P.P.