Mira Sorvino: Faith, Family and “The Girl Who Believes in Miracles”
Interviewed for Risen Magazine
Risen Magazine: The Girl Who Believes in Miracles, I felt like this was just such an important reminder of the power of prayer and having faith. Can you just speak a little bit to those overall themes?
Mira Sorvino: Yeah, I think that it really sort of focuses on this simple, pure open faith of a child. And I feel like we all have to kind of reenter that childlike openness to God. And her faith is so beautiful and pure and it doesn’t question. It’s just like, “Yeah, I believe I can do these things, why not?” And everyone around her is so jaded, by the hard experiences they’ve experienced in life. And obviously as adults, we’ve gone through a lot more than most children have, but through her and her beautiful faith and how God is sort of working these miracles through her for a time, I think there’s sort of a path back to just that trust in God and put your faith in God and see what happens. Yeah.
RM: As a parent, it was so difficult to watch without thinking about my own children. And I know you’re a mom of four, so what does that look like? Do you internalize? Do you have to kind of compartmentalize? There was so much emotion and the role required a lot from you.
MS: It did. It was kind of gut-wrenching. I don’t want to put people off from watching it because there is a positive ending, right? Okay. So don’t feel like you’re going to go and see this and be destroyed. But the middle section of the movie is very, very tough and my character as a mom is facing the worst eventuality that perhaps she could lose her daughter. And I have two daughters and two sons and Austin, the wonderful actress who plays Sarah, my daughter in the story, kind of bares sort of resemblance to my littlest child, my daughter Lucia who’s eight right now. And her eyes are like the same. And her hair color is the same. And Austin is just older, right? And a different nose, but there’s a similarness to them.
And so it was awful for me to play these scenes where I’m talking to doctors or crying over her, just it was awful. And you don’t really… You try not to think of your own kids, but the power of suggestion just as a mom is just so relatable because nobody should have to see their child suffer, gets sick or possibly died. So it was very hard, but it’s also beautiful as things transpire as the plot moves forward. But yeah, it was rough.
RM: Because of Sarah’s belief, miracles happen. And in turn, that’s contagious, that instills hope in others and rekindles their faith too. I feel like we’ve all kind of had points in our life where our faith becomes a little bit more real or there’s that person that is the encouragement that keeps us focused. For you, is there a specific person or can you share a time when your faith was a little bit more real?
MS: I think my faith is always experiencing developments as I go through my life. The first two people that really had strong faith in my life were my mother and my grandmother. My mom is really a fundamentalist and like a serious Bible studier and she used to draw scriptures out of a hat when we were kids. And my grandmother was… My mom’s protestant and my grandmother was Catholic and my grandmother just had this really easy faith and just would pray a lot, but didn’t go to church. She wasn’t really able to leave her house that much, but she was just really in touch with God and Jesus and Mary.
And I just felt like the two of them together kind of formed my faith in a way. My mom with this strong moral core. Mom was a little bit more, the letter of the law, my grandma was a little bit more, the spirit of the law and they came together. But it’s personal, right? So we reach out to God when we are needing him the most. And I’ve had those moments in my life and then seeing his answers in my life. And I am a very blessed person, even though I’ve undergone a lot of trials and travails. And I always try and pray for answers as to what I should do on really, really difficult issues and listening to that inner voice is really a part of who I am and what has made my life the way it is.
RM: One of the things that I love about this family, the Hopkins that we see on screen too, is that they love each other. They root for each other. It’s not always perfect and it’s messy, but they’re in it together. And I think it’s so fun to see that reflected on screen rather than fighting, or siblings that don’t like each other. Will you talk a little bit about the uniqueness of this family?
MS: I think it’s funny because over the years, we’ve tried to sell certain projects, my husband and I, and been told, “Oh, there’s not enough conflict.” “There’s not enough acrimony.” “There should be more bitterness.” Years ago, I tried to sell a show with my dad as a cooking show where we were exploring our Italian roots and going back to Italy and uncovering all the places and stories that were connected to our favorite dishes and I was vegetarian, he’s not, but it was this loving kind of return to Italy through cuisine and family. And everyone was like, “Where’s the conflict? Where’s the drama? I need you guys to like bicker and hate each other in the kitchen and like fight.” And I’m like, “Why?” But I guess conflict is what people are looking for, drama, because I guess that is entertainment.
But in this story, the drama comes from the situation, not from the family. I mean, there’s definitely, I think still conflict between myself and Peter Coyote, my dad, because he does what he thinks my daughter wants. And I’m doing what I think is best for… We’re both doing what we think is best for my daughter, but there are different interpretations of it. I want her to be safe and cared for, and he wants her to live out what he thinks is her last wish. And so there’s definitely conflict that comes from points of view and actions, but not out of rancor and just general… And those things have their place in dramatic fiction for sure, but that’s just not this story. There’s a bigger drama unfolding and we don’t need any more acrimony.
RM: Speaking of family, you brought up your father, we all know that, he’s Paul Sorvino. I have to ask because we see such a beautiful relationship with the grandpa and the grandkids in this film. For you, we know that he’s had an impact on even your career choice and your life, but what’s it like for you to see him interact with your kids? What warms your heart seeing him as a grandpa?
MS: He was talking to my daughter just the other day on Zoom. We haven’t been able to see him since last summer because of COVID and all the travel restrictions and our unwillingness to travel much, but he was so sweet to her and loves her so much. And he was like, “Boy, she’s really special.” He was just sort of singing her praises and she was so happy to get to talk to him. And it just warms my heart to see that bond that they shared.
RM: This year has been so different, the past year and a half. Right? And there’s been a lot of kind of missed expectations, maybe job loss, a lot of questioning, but at the same time, there can be a lot of joy too. And new beginnings and shifts in perspective. How do you think this film is kind of perfectly placed for that encouragement or comfort that people might need?
MS: I don’t want to downplay that the real loss that people have experienced this year. I mean, 500,000-plus people have died. Right? And I know someone who died, who I loved very much, he was quite elderly, but still that wasn’t the way he should’ve gone. And I have other people who suffered terrible bouts of the disease. So I certainly want to honor everyone out there who had those real losses and not kind of be like, “Well, a movie could fix all that for you.”
But I think that right now, we see hope, we see that we’re kind of coming around the corner hopefully if people continue to be cautious. If people continue to be vaccinated and practice safe, social distancing, and mask wearing, and all of that, that maybe we can further and further dwindle down the mortality and the infection rate and the job loss and the economic devastation. And hold on to the good things that we found during this time, which was, I think that increased realization of what’s important in life. That it’s not the car or the super, highly regarded position or the long hours. It’s the people that you love and it’s their wellbeing and you’re closest to them and truth and joy.
So if we can hold onto the good things that some of us found during this time of kind of unexpected more time with each other, then maybe we can come out of this on the other side healing and growing from the experience rather than just having taken a hit.
The Girl Who Believes in Miracles hits theatres April 2