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Film & DVD

Paul Sorvino to screen ‘Goodfellas’ at Florida Film Festival

An interview with the veteran actor, who says he tries to evade the gangster stereotype

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An afternoon with Paul Sorvino

Florida Film Festival | 11 a.m. Saturday, April 12 | Enzian Theater, 1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland | 407-629-1088 | floridafilmfestival.com | $25

Paul Sorvino has a lot on his mind and a lot on his proverbial plate, but not a single one of those items has anything to do with the Mafia.

“Most people think I’m either a gangster or a cop or something, but the reality is I’m a sculptor, a painter, a best-selling author, many, many things – a poet, an opera singer, but none of them is gangster, but, you know, obviously I sort of have a knack for playing these things,” Sorvino says. “It’s almost my later goal in life to disabuse people of the notion that I’m a slow-moving, heavy-lidded thug, and most people’s impression of me is that – because of the success of Goodfellas and a few other things, but they forget that I was also Dr. Kissinger in Nixon … the deaf lawyer in Dummy, and they forget a lot of things that I’ve done. … It would be nice to have my legacy more than that of just tough guy.”

Despite his eagerness to distance himself from that stereotype, Sorvino says he couldn’t resist the part of a former mob boss just released from prison in his new film Last I Heard, which he’s promoting and attending a screening of at this year’s Florida Film Festival.

“My son knew the director, Dave [Rodriguez], and then we were in a movie together that he sort of directed, called Mineville, and my son, myself and Dave … we became friendly, and I really liked his directing style and liked him, and my son Michael said, ‘You know, Dad, [Rodriguez’s screenplay of Last I Heard] is a very good script.’ … As soon as I read it, I knew that this would be a very, very good role for me. … More than the category – gangster – was the heart that was in it.”

So what about that other gangster film Sorvino will be screening on April 12 at the festival, Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas? Did he really hate it upon first watch?

“That was for the first three hours. But I was blown away by it, and my natural critical eye was damaged because of the effect the movie had on me,” he says. “I thought it was excessively violent, boring, and I was boring in it. About three hours later, somehow, I don’t know how, I came out of the haze that the movie had put me in, semi-comatose, and was looking at it in reality and thinking about it and saying, ‘Wait a minute, I think I’ve just seen a great movie, and I think [I’m] good in it.’”

Scorsese isn’t the only great director with whom Sorvino has worked. Films starring the actor have been helmed by the likes of Sydney Pollack (The Firm), Oliver Stone (Nixon) and Warren Beatty (Reds and Dick Tracy), the latter being a “wonderful director,” according to Sorvino. But it’s Scorsese whom the actor focuses on most.

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