Paul Sorvino, the burly character actor who made a career out of playing forceful types, most notably the coldhearted mobster Paulie Cicero in Martin Scorsese’s GoodFellas, has died. He was 83.
Sorvino, the father of Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite), died Monday of natural causes, his wife, Dee Dee, announced.
“Our hearts are broken, there will never be another Paul Sorvino, he was the love of my life and one of the greatest performers to ever grace the screen and stage,” she said.
Publicist Roger Neal said he died at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.
During a solid career that spanned a half-century, Sorvino portrayed James Caan’s bookie inThe Gambler (1974), Claire Danes’ pushy father in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet (1996), Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in Oliver Stone’s Nixon (1995) and a strung-out heroin addict in The Cooler (2003).
He played a founder of the American Communist Party in Warren Beatty’s Reds (1981) and worked alongside the actor-director again in Dick Tracy (1990), Bulworth (1998) and Rules Don’t Apply (2016).
A respected tenor who realized a dream when he performed for the New York Opera at Lincoln Center in 2006, the Brooklyn native also starred for a season as Det. Phil Cerretta, the partner of Chris Noth’s Det. Mike Logan, on NBC’s Law & Order.
In 1973, Sorvino received a Tony nomination and a Drama Desk Award for his performance as the unscrupulous Phil Romano — one of the four former high school basketball players who reunite to visit their old coach — in the original Broadway production of Jason Miller’s That Championship Season, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for drama.
He reprised the role for a 1982 film, then played the coach in a 1999 Showtime telefilm for which he also made his directorial debut. He returned to Scranton, Pennsylvania, the setting of That Championship Season, to star in and helm his only feature, The Trouble With Cali (2012).
Still, Sorvino is probably best known for his turn as Cicero, who loved a good meal and sliced his garlic with a razor blade, in the ultra-violent GoodFellas (1990), which Nicholas Pileggi and Scorsese adapted from Pileggi’s 1986 nonfiction book.
In a 2015 New York Times piece on the 25th anniversary of the movie, Sorvino said he was overjoyed to get the part — and scared to death.
(Excerpt) Read more in: The Hollywood Reporter