Brooklyn-born actor Paul Sorvino began his career as a 16-year-old singer at a Catskills resort dreaming of becoming an opera singer. And it was no pipe dream. He had studied singing for years and, to this day, has a beautiful tenor voice. But rent and real life led him into a variety of odd jobs and a stint in the Army. [read more...]
His singing hopes somewhat stifled by asthma, he redirected his career into what promised to be a more lucrative field—acting. Years of acting and vocal lessons were largely supported through scholarships. After studying dramatic arts under the tutelage of renowned acting teacher Sanford Meisner at the prestigious American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City, Mr. Sorvino made his Broadway debut at 25 acting and singing in the original 1964 production of the musical “Bajour.”
Over the next three years, Mr. Sorvino worked a variety of jobs (salesman, chauffeur, etc.) while gaining prominence as an advertising writer/creative director and pursuing
his acting career. He made his film debut in Carl Reiner’s 1970 comedy “Going Ape” and began a career solely dedicated to acting and occasional singing. At 40, the tenor made his lifelong dream come true with his operatic debut in “Die
Fledermaus,” selling out six performances at the Seattle Opera (the impresario Glynn Ross told the press Mr. Sorvino had “one of the voices of the century”). The reviews
included “he has an astonishing high C.” In opera, he would go on to sing the lead in “The Most Happy Fella” in 2006 at The New York City Opera at Lincoln Center and sold out 15 critically acclaimed performances.
Mr. Sorvino has appeared in more than 160 films, and a variety of television shows. An accomplished stage actor, he won six awards for his performance in the Broadway production of the dark comedy “That Championship Season”—including a Drama Desk Award and the New York Drama Critics Award for Best Actor in 1972, and was nominated for a Tony Award in 1973. He reprised the role in the 1981 movie version, and directed and starred in the Showtime version of “That Championship Season” in 1999.
Mr. Sorvino has also directed on Broadway, “Wheelbarrow Closers,” and off B’way’s “Marlon Brando Sat Right Here,” as well the film “The Trouble With Cali.” In 1987, he founded The American Stage Company on the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University and was its artistic director for three years.
On the big screen, he’s best known for his portrayal of tough guys and authority figures, in such standout performances as Paul Cicero in Martin Scorsese’s 1990 film
“Goodfellas” and stressed-out police chief Capt. Edelson in William Friedkin’s 1980 drama “Cruising.” His many other noteworthy credits include the portrayal of Henry
Kissinger in Oliver Stone’s 1995 “Nixon,” and as Fulgencio Capulet in Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 Shakespearean update “Romeo + Juliet” (1996).
On television, among other roles, he starred as detective Phil Cerreta on “Law & Order” and Al Miller on the sitcom “Still Standing.” Among his other starring roles on TV are Frank DeLucca in “That’s Life” and Detective Ike Porter in “The Oldest Rookie.”
Early on, Sorvino suffered from severe asthma, but as an adult created and mastered breathing techniques that helped control attacks. He wrote the 1985 best-selling book
“How to Become a Former Asthmatic” and founded the Sorvino Asthma Foundation to educate the public about asthma and techniques for managing the illness. He has been honored twice by the Pope for his work with asthmatics as well as by the American Medical Association.
Paul is a Knight of the Great Cross in the order of The Carinzia, founded by Saint George in the 3rd century for the protection of the pope (Cavaliere Di Gran Croce); and
Knight of the Italian Republic. His family is noble; its coat of arms dating back to the twelfth century.
An actor, director, best-selling author, screenwriter, professional bronze sculptor, pianist, business man, operatic tenor and passionate cook, Sorvino still returns occasionally to his original dream and headlines his own concerts. He lives in Los Angeles and is the proud father of son Michael, and daughters Amanda and Academy Award-winning actress Mira Sorvino.