Mira Sorvino Takes On a Human Tragedy
In the Lifetime two-part movie Human Trafficking
(airing Oct. 24 and Oct. 25 at 9 pm/ET), Mira Sorvino
plays Kate, a Russian-born ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agent out to break up a ring that traffics women and children across international borders. We talked to the Oscar-winning actress about the movie, her activism and her new life as a working mom.
TVGuide.com: Is Human Trafficking to the international sex trade what Traffic was to drug smuggling?
Mira Sorvino: Yes. [We] want the film to be a tool for awakening people to this growing problem. The film weaves together three stories: We follow two Eastern European women who are brought into the U.S. and made to work as prostitutes, and a young American girl who is kidnapped in the Philippines and sold into sex slavery. One trafficker (Robert Carlyle) is connected to all the stories. [Up to] 50,000 people a year are trafficked within the United States. It could happen to anybody.
TVGuide.com: How true to life is the movie?
Sorvino: It was vetted by the ICE and by Amnesty International. I'm the spokeswoman for their Stop Violence Against Women campaign. We're creating an downloadable educational tool kit on this issue. This project is an ideal way to marry my activist interests and my acting work. We're doing a screening on Capitol Hill to talk to lawmakers about antitrafficking legislation.
TVGuide.com: The movie is basically about sex slavery.
Sorvino: In the United States, human trafficking is about 50 percent sexual trafficking and 50 percent other kinds — house servants, farm workers, sweat-shop workers. They're equally grievous.
TVGuide.com: What kind of research did you do?
Sorvino: I met with several women who were trafficked and with people from the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking. They offer legal services to victims and help them find an education and get a visa to stay in the United States.
TVGuide.com: What do you want viewers to come away with?
Sorvino: I hope they'll be concerned and outraged, that they'll take a closer look at their neighborhoods, and that they'll look for suspicious activity, such as people who seem to be imprisoned in their homes or workplaces. Or write their congressional representative to say that they should do everything they can to strengthen actions against trafficking.
TVGuide.com: You had a baby girl, Mattea Angel, with your husband, Christopher Backus, last year. Does that affect what you want to do and how much you want to do it?
Sorvino: It affects all of that. You think twice before you do anything that you wouldn't want [your child] to see in the future. And I definitely don't like to work as much! I'm very torn when I'm working. Part of me is going, "I'm stretching the old acting muscles," but at the same time, I feel terrible leaving her in the [set] trailer. But having a child has changed my life immeasurably for the better.
TVGuide.com: You've been doing some seriously depressing work! You were a concentration camp victim in The Grey Zone and now Human Trafficking.
Sorvino: And I recently did Leningrad, a movie with Gabriel Byrne about the Nazis' siege of the city in 1943. I was filming in that cold, cold place with my 2-month-old. But Human Trafficking became energizing — it makes you feel that there is something to be done.
TVGuide.com: You received great notices and an Oscar for comic turns in films such as Mighty Aphrodite and Romy and Michele's High School Reunion. Any interest in doing comedy again?
Sorvino: I'm so looking for a comedy! That's my No. 1 priority. I want to do a really light, funny, frothy, silly thing. There's something so delightful about being on a set where everybody's laughing. Put the word out!
TVGuide.com: Any last thoughts about Human Trafficking?
Sorvino: Did you know that the person who plays my brother is my brother in real life, Michael Sorvino? He's really fun and we improvised a lot. It's the only comedic dialogue in the film; a way to show the audience that Kate is human. It's the first time we ever did scenes together.