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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, October 24, 2005

Sorvino's latest role reduces her to tears

Gannett News Service

Actress Mira Sorvino plays Kate Morozov, a Russian-born, New York City detective, in "Human Trafficking," a Lifetime miniseries.

CHRIS CARLSON | Associated Press

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Part 1: 6 tonight; repeats 4 p.m. tomorrow

Part 2: 6 p.m. tomorrow


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Dark, global realities flow through "Human Trafficking," a four-hour, two-part miniseries that is Lifetime's first original program of its type.

This is a thriller with fierce villains and noble heroes.

"It's a highly gripping film and it works on many levels," says Mira Sorvino, who stars as a gun-toting Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent.

Soon, the deeper levels take over in the miniseries about young women shipped around the world against their will.

"What we see is really a global epidemic of human misery and human rights violations against women and girls," said Taina Bien-Aime, head of Equality Now and an adviser on the film.

Sorvino, who had studied global issues, says she didn't realize the extent of modern slavery.

"Certainly not the amount in this country," she says.

The numbers are disputed, says Bien-Aime. The U.S. State Department estimates abetween 700,000 and 2 million girls and women worldwide are coerced into involuntary labor or prostitution. The United Nations says 4 million.

More compelling are the individual stories. Sorvino talked with customs agents about the women they rescue.

"They said there's a haunted look in their eyes," she says.

That's what "Human Trafficking" focuses on. It begins with young women who are wide-eyed and optimistic, despite the brutal economy in former Soviet countries.

"It's a huge problem ... 100,000 Russian women are trafficked every year," says scriptwriter Agatha Dominik.

She is a native of Poland in this sweepingly international TV project. The producer (Robert Halmi) is from Hungary, the director (Christian Duguay) is French-Canadian, the actor playing the villain (Robert Carlyle) is Scottish, and talented young Canadian actresses play most of the victims.

Trying to save them is Kate Morozov, a rookie customs agent, originally from Russia.

"She's burning with passion to do something about this," says Sorvino, who plays her.

It's a fiercely emotional role that Sorvino raced through. Duguay did the camera work himself, providing a gritty feel. "It's a really fast and furious way of working," Sorvino says. "Sometimes, it helps you get through the difficult parts.

"Sometimes, you just get wrecked. (After one scene), I could not stop crying."

That could be a family trait. When Sorvino won her Academy Award (for supporting actress in Woody Allen's 1995 "Mighty Aphrodite"), her father, actor Paul Sorvino, wept copiously.

"We're Italian," Mira says with a laugh. "My dad is a very outgoing, gregarious man in touch with his emotions."

She inherits his nature, but feels there is more to it than that. "I start with a big emotional range, I suppose," she says. "But you have to learn how to control it."

Sorvino immersed herself in education, graduating magna cum laude from Harvard. After winning the Oscar at 29, she starred in the films "Mimic," "The Replacement Killers," "At First Sight" and others.

Now she's 38, married and with a baby, and she's trying other directions. "I don't think you see me doing any more giant-bug movies," Sorvino says. "I enjoyed it, but it's not where I live emotionally or intellectually."

Learn more: www.lifetimetv.com