Trending :: June 12, 2013
Murder, Mystery, and Missing Money
Posted June 12, 2013 by Kristen Kucharski, Glancer Magazine
Photos by Mike Mantucca
Q & A w/ Paul Sorvino
Amarok Productions continues to bring Hollywood to the west suburbs of Chicago with the production of their third film, Precious Mettle, starring Paul Sorvino. Producer DeAnna Cooper of Wheaton and Italian director Edmond Coisson of Naperville tie the glamour of Hollywood with the core of family and community, employing 98% Chicago area residents on the set of this most recent film. Paul Sorvino will star in the murder mystery playing a police commander (Frank Walsh) who lost his wife and daughter in a tragic car crash many years ago, and now--on the verge of retirement--attempts to help a daughter he never knew escape heroin addiction and a past that endangers her, while investigating his best friend's murder.
The movie Precious Mettle is about murder, mystery, and missing money – how would you say this suspense thriller differentiates itself from traditional murder mysteries?
I’m not sure it does but I know the quality is going to be high because the script is such a good script. The players – Fiona (Dourif) is such a wonderful actress--and I know how to do this. I think the quality is going to be very high. We had a reading on Saturday with some actors that I have never seen before and what a high quality . . .you mustn’t forget that in Chicago you have a marvelous theatrical tradition and a very high place for actors to learn and for actors to practice their craft and their art. You notice I say two different things – craft and art. Movies for an actor are a craft art; stage is art because on stage you get to start, middle, and finish yourself. On film, you have nothing to say about the finish, you give pieces and they assemble them later, so that’s craft.
What drew you to this script to want to accept the role of Police Commander Frank Walsh?
Well it’s redemptive. It’s a fellow who lost his family in an accident and he’s a broken man because of it, but he’s a strong man so he keeps moving, but the joy is gone. And so what happens in this, it re-awakens in him the love that he had no chance to give. That’s what we all want.
What do you like most about portraying Frank Walsh?
He is a strong man. I was talking about this last night with a friend. I have succeeded best in strong roles. I have played roles that were on the weak side – not even weak, just not really strong--and I find that I gravitate more toward strong roles because in my life I am pretty strong. I don’t mean tough because I say strong and tough are two different things. A really strong man is a tender man. A really strong man is a sensitive man because he’s not afraid of being sensitive and vulnerable. It takes strength to be that. Anybody can run in front of the camera or the cannon, that’s a fool. It’s the man who understands the danger and does it because he has to do it to save someone or to do the right thing – that’s strength and courage. Frank Walsh is very strong. He’s very hurt – anybody would be after losing a wife and child--but he is strong and he does his job. I think a guy like Frank not only does his job because he has nothing else to do, I think he does it because he believes in pursuing justice. I look at it this way and I know other police officers that do too. He thinks he’s doing something good with his life. He’s making the world a better place by doing his good police work. He’s on the side of the angels. So I admire a man that does that or any woman that does that. He didn’t stay on to have something to do. He stayed on because this is a significant thing to do in life and I look at firemen and policemen and people who help others like medical people and first responders – I look at them all as far greater heroes than anything I can be. They are just extraordinary. One of the nice things about being an artist or an actor of any kind is that you can portray these characters that you admire. I would like to believe I would have made a pretty good police commander because I believe in doing the right thing. I think I’m a pretty strong fellow. I’m not a fearful man but if I do have fears, I face them.
Having two daughters (Mira and Amanda), does your paternal role in this movie really touch your heart, portraying the father of a daughter struggling with heroin addiction?
Well I think once you are a father, there’s not a whole lot of research to do, especially if you are a good father. If your children have been so important to you, as mine have been and are, half a step to the side and you are there.
Your character, Police Commander Frank Walsh, had plans to retire from the force -- do you see yourself ever considering retirement? If so, what do you see yourself doing when you retire?
If I can’t walk anymore maybe but really as long as I am alive, I can do something. You know I am a professional sculptor. Even if movies stopped or television stopped, I can still go to my studio and do my sculptures. As long as I have strength to do something that’s what I can do. As long as I have strength in my hands, I can play the piano or play the guitar or draw or sculpt or direct or sing or write. Why I would ever stop doing artistic things, I don’t know, because being an artist is the luckiest way of going through life. You get to play as the children play and yet make a living doing it. When you have to do something you don’t like in order to do something you do like, half your life or two-thirds of your life is pretty much messed up. But when you are doing something that is already what you want to do and that already pays you so you can live – you’re a lucky fellow.
What is your favorite aspect of working with Naperville resident and producer Edmund Coisson?
He’s a marvelous man. This Italian immigrant is just a sensitive, brilliant, wonderful guy and he’s written a hell of a script – he just has. A very family oriented guy, the script is very family oriented. He simply wrote a heck of a script. We are getting to know each other in a very nice way. The minute I spoke with him the first time, I knew I liked him. Not just because he’s Italian – I like people who aren’t Italian too (he says very jokingly and with a laugh).
You have typically represented very strong authority figures in your roles over the years, such as Paulie Cicero in Goodfellas and Sgt. Phil Cerreta on Law &Order. Do these roles represent your everyday nature – are you seen as an authority figure amongst your family and friends, or is this persona opposite to your true self?
I know that there is an image out there of me as a tough guy and into the mafia and all of that, but of course, as you know, I am a poet, an opera singer, a best-selling author, director. I’m really nothing like the Mafioso Goodfellas characters but I think I’m a good bit softer than most people would expect me to be. Although I don’t suffer fools well and that is true. I give anybody a break but if I see someone is trying to play me then it goes very fast from teddy bear to grizzly bear. That I know about myself and that is true. But generally speaking, I am a very easy person to deal with, I like for everybody to have fun, I love to entertain people, I like to tell jokes, I like to cook for people, I like for everybody to be having a good time, because people like me find it difficult to have a good time unless people around them are having a good time.
You were once quoted as giving your daughter Mira advice – “Allow yourself the courage to fail because if you are always worried about failing, you will never soar.” What has been your biggest failure that helped soar you into the successes of today?
It’s funny, I don’t think of when it doesn’t work as failure. I don’t give that to myself. I find that everything I do is leading to something better; so if it doesn’t work today perhaps it will work tomorrow or in another way. It’s funny, I have never thought of myself in any sense as a failure in anything. If things don’t work as well as expected that’s not failure. That’s a word that should be erased from the language. It’s inept - because unless you’re dead, there’s always another day.
Was Paul Sorvino Foods created for your love of Italian foods in consideration of a diabetic diet or simply to make a great pasta sauce?
I made a great pasta sauce but unfortunately I had to close it because the people who came along with me could not supply the funds to keep it going. But a real bummer, in Consumer Reports, we beat Raos who owns some of the best sauces in the world. It may have been one of the best marinara sauces ever put in a jar because it’s made in the way that you make Italian Neapolitan marinara sauce. Marina was invented in Naples. Marina means sailor. It’s a sailor sauce and on the boats that’s what they do. Very often and when time goes down people start to add other ingredients and start to mess it up. The real marinara sauce is very simple – olive oil, garlic, basil, tomatoes, salt & pepper, and just a touch of oregano – so little that you can barely taste it. A lot of people put garlic and onions in the same thing and what you are doing is cancelling the flavors. Garlic is tangy and onions are sweet – as soon as you put them together, your taste is gone. That’s what happens with most of those sauces on the shelves. I use the same way of cooking that my father and all of my ancestors in Naples did.
Where have you eaten in the Naperville/Aurora area?
We went to Morton’s, which was very nice. We went to Maggiano’s, which was very nice. We went to Catch 35, which I thought was very good.
Tell me a bit about Sorvino Asthma Foundation and how asthma affected your opera career.
It delayed it completely and in a way it made it difficult or impossible because it causes pneumonia and things like that so you really rough up the instrument and after a while you can’t put all your money in it – all your attention to it. Luckily I could act. But the asthma foundation is very close to my heart. In fact, we are having a big thing (this summer) in Napa Valley at the Winterhawk Winery. It’s going to be a fundraiser for the Asthma Foundation. It’s going to be really great; it’s going to be a marvelous thing. I am very happy about that. It should be on the website. Anyone that wants to donate to the Sorvino Asthma Foundation, it’s a 501(c)3. My goal is to have asthma centers in every major city in this country where they can teach the modality that cured my asthma. The breathing exercises that were taught to me so many years ago and I’ve written a best-selling book about it and taught it to thousands of people and changed hundreds of thousands of lives.
Just For Fun....
Opera or rap? He laughed at that one.
Singing or acting? That’s a toss-up just like I couldn’t tell you which of my children I love best, I don’t know how to do that because those are like my children. When I’m doing what I’m doing, that’s what I’m loving.
Live theater or cinema? Live theater is enormous for the actor. It recharges his batteries. It builds him up. Film drags him down – because you’ve lost your novelistic sensibility, the strength of carrying it in your head and your heart. In film you don’t have to do any of that because you just show up and do pieces, pieces, pieces. You don’t have to do much about the overall because it’s done by the director. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like to do movies because I’m happy this is going to be seen by others down the road. I want to make sure that my great-grandchildren can see it one day and say, “boy, Great-grandpa was a great actor.” That’s why I do what I do. I’m working for them and for the people who like my work. I feel a sense of responsibility. I had a wonderful compliment from a great New York critic by the name of Jeffrey Lyons. He said, “I’ve seen Sorvino in over 100 movies (I’ve done over 155 by now) and I’ve never seen him do the same performance twice.” That was one of my biggest compliments because I don’t do the same thing twice. Everything is a new approach, even if it sounds like it’s the same thing; it’s a new approach, it’s a new character, it’s a new way of speaking, a new way of thinking, a different way of expressing his heart or lack of.
Marinara sauce or vodka sauce? Marinara.
Spaghetti or lasagna? Lasagna.