Mira Sorvino has never forgotten the words of her acting coach: “You have to find the pinch that creates the ouch.” Those words resonated with her when she was creating the character of Lucy, a bi-polar New Yorker in the drama Union Square.
“You have to come up with something you feel strongly about,” she says. “So you have to form scenes or story points in your head with things that did something to you viscerally and that preloads your ammunition so when you get to those parts it all has the resonance its supposed to.”
To find that resonance, she spent a week exploring the character with director Nancy Savoca. “It was a rehearsal week in which Nancy kind of transmitted to us the world she was depicting in this movie.
This is about women and she talked about relatives of hers. Not specific to anyone, she’s changed everything, and she wouldn’t tell us which parts were true and which parts was fiction. She had aunts who were ‘nervous’ and my character Lucy is ‘nervous.’ She said in the old days when someone was bipolar they used to call them ‘nervous.’ Through her stories and her oral transmission she gave us the vibe of everything and then we talked over backstories, but we didn’t really rehearse.”
The film tells an intimate story about estranged sisters played by Tammy Blanchard and Sorvino, one about to be married, the other about to have a nervous breakdown. Sorvino, an Academy Award winner for her work in Mighty Aphrodite, says she wasn’t sure how audiences would react to Lucy.
“In the first 10 minutes of the film I got worried that we were going to lose the audience,” she says. “She’s up and down and up and down. In the beginning I think it was written in the script that she broke down crying seven times, and I thought that would be too much. I think now it’s like five or four-and-a-half.”