Mira Sorvino and Tammy Blanchard Play Estranged Sisters in the New Movie 'Union Square'

The two great actresses discuss their latest roles in "Union Square," out in theaters July 13, 2012. Read the edited version of our interview with them below to get a glimpse of their personal lives and family values

by Ilyssa Panitz • More.com Celebrity Reporter
mira sorvino and tammy blanchard image
Tammy Blanchard (left) and Mira Sorvino in their new movie "Union Square"

More: Mira, you star in the new film Union Square (watch the trailer here), which is about estranged sisters. Have you ever been estranged from a sibling or someone else you love?
Mira Sorvino: I think everyone, at some point, has been. But my character, Lucy, is not the one who wanted the estrangement in this story. It is really more Jennifer’s doing [Jennifer is played by actress Tammy Blanchard]. She wants to get as far away from me as possible because I am crazy and come with a lot of drama. Then add to that the fact my character is also bipolar. Although I didn’t draw on any personal experience for the estrangement part, I did create Lucy's personality from pieces of me and other people I know and love.

More: Such as?
MS: I know someone who is bipolar. I really wanted to study bipolar people's behavior so I understood how strongly they feel things. I also learned they can be very lovable, creative and intelligent.

More: Tammy, what about you?
Tammy Blanchard: This character and the choices she has made are the polar opposite of the choices I have made for myself. I basically stayed in New Jersey, where I was born and raised, because of my love for my family.

More: You are that close, huh?
TB: They are not an easy family to deal with in any way, but my love and loyalty to them are what have driven me to make a lot of the choices I have made in life. To watch my character in Union Square, who has the need to get away from her family and run away from who she truly is—that is something I would never do with my life.

More: Tammy, because of your close relationship with your family, was it hard to play someone who is ashamed of hers?
TB: It was a little painful playing someone so uptight and so against her family. But I had to be honest with my character and tell the story as best I could. I am hoping that if people are in this particular situation, maybe seeing the film will make them pick up the phone and say hello.

More: That’s a pretty powerful message.
TB: People should always take the time to reach out to the people they love and tell them that they love them. That was the main reason I made the film. My family was going through this stage once. My nanny happened to be sick and there were 14 people fighting over who was going to take care of my daughter. There was separation in the family, and when the film came along I thought, Wow, if my aunts and uncles could see this, maybe it could help. I am so glad this is coming out now because I hope it will help more people come together.

More: Mira, you are the mother of four children. Even though your kids are so young, how do you teach them early on about forgiving and forgetting?
MS: I try to teach them about that now, but it is hard. As a mother, it is hard to watch them fight, because I see all of their ability to love and I want them to see each other in that same light. I always say, there is no need to fight. Instead, we need to work things out, because your sibling is going to be your best friend your whole life. You don’t need to fight—what you need is to love him or her. I never allow a small issue to develop into a large feud.

More: Tammy, what will you teach your daughter, Ava, about putting family drama in the past and letting go of it?
TB: I teach Ava to love and be kind. As long as you have love in your heart and treat people the way you want to be treated, it does not matter what others do to you. You always have to stay true to who you are and never harbor bad feelings. Love is also about understanding and respect.

More: Mira, since we are talking about everyone's children, congratulations are in order. You just became a mom for the fourth time at age 44. How are you doing?
MS: I am fine. I am happy to be not pregnant again. Pregnancy is rough, especially when you have two projects going at the same time. When it comes to the end and you feel so large, you just want to get back to normal life. Now it feels good to be normal again. I will say, my beautiful Lucia is just a little doll. We are almost the Brady Bunch, when you think about it. I always wanted a family of four and now I finally have it.

More: Your husband, Christopher Backus, and three of your children have small parts in the film?
MS: That was a favor my husband did, and yes, my kids make a cameo appearance.

More: Mira, since you, your husband and your father [actor Paul Sorvino] are all actors, would you support your children’s decision to follow in all of your footsteps? 
MS: I encourage them in their little local community children’s theater. As for encouraging it as a career, I don’t know. It can be a very painful life. Even though there are a ton of advantages if you are successful, it is not like careers where things are stable. There is a lot of rejection involved in being an actor, and a lot of crazy judgments from the powers that be, the press and the public. That can be devastating.

More: On the subject of families—Tammy, you hide Mira’s character from your onscreen fiancĂ©, Mike?
TB: (laughs) Yes, the sister I think doesn’t exist. That is a really intense case of escapism. The fact that Jenny makes up a totally false background says there must be something seriously wrong in their family. Lucy is a whirlwind of emotions. You can only imagine what it's like to grow up with a sister like that—and a mother, too. I think Jenny felt she grew up around an emotional tornado and it wrecked her so badly she had no choice but to deny who she is.

More: Do you think Jenny tried to reinvent herself?
TB: (laughs) I feel like she went from hotdogs and hamburgers to tofu and stir-fry vegetables. I feel like she had to. There was something very wrong in her family, and in order for her to create a life that wasn’t depressing, she had to deny her past and reinvent herself. Her only mistake was not being honest with the man she is about to marry. The past always comes back to haunt you, and Jenny will have to face her lies.

More: Yet another good lesson to be learned.
TB: You should never lie about who you are.

More: Has Tammy ever reinvented herself?
TB: As I got older I found out that people do change, and it is through the people you allow in your life. For me, I allow positivity to be around me. Everyone deserves to be loved and feel special. It is the negative feelings and the negative people that can change you. I think we all grow and experience life.

More: Mira, what about you? Did you ever reinvent yourself?
MS: I think actors are always reinventing themselves through their roles. I don’t think I have tried to reinvent myself as a person. If anything, I have tried to mature and learn and become happier and more fulfilled as a person as I get older. I also try to improve on my flaws and do more for other people. But if you were going to ask me what the biggest transformation was, that would be having my children. Once I became a mother my life was revolutionized.

More: Mira, we should also note you did the camerawork for one of the film’s key scenes. Tell me about that.
MS: That was natural, because it is a scene in which my character is videotaping her mom. It just seemed to make sense that if it is me talking from behind the lens, then I should be the one holding the camera, and it should not look like professional camerawork.

More: You won an Academy Award for your role in Mighty Aphrodite. Do you feel the pressure to be picky and always take memorable roles because you carry the title of Oscar winner?
MS: No, I have never felt that everything had to be dictated by that. Although I am very appreciative for having won the award, I always followed what my heart told me to do over the years.

More: Tammy, you won an Emmy and have been nominated for a Tony. Do you feel the pressure to be picky and always take memorable roles because you carry the title of award winner?
TB: I don’t care what anyone thinks about my acting career or what anyone says about a role I choose to play. I need to love the character. I need to know I can be honest with it and I know I will do a good job. I will say, after you receive an accolade, you do hope to find a role that will get you back into that atmosphere and respected for your work.

Click here to read Elizabeth Banks Plays a Single Mom and Alcoholic in Her Latest Film, "People Like Us."

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First Published Tue, 2012-07-03 08:45

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