New York Daily News: By Brian Niemietz – “Goodfellas” actor and Brooklyn native Paul Sorvino, an imposing character actor who was as comfortable playing a mobster as he was a cop on “Law & Order,” died Monday. He was 83.
His daughter, Academy Award-winning “Mighty Aphrodite” actress Mira Sorvino, tweeted Monday that her “great” father was gone.
“My father the great Paul Sorvino has passed. My heart is rent asunder — a life of love and joy and wisdom with him is over,” Mira Sorvino tweeted. “He was the most wonderful father. I love him so much. I’m sending you love in the stars Dad as you ascend.”
“Our hearts are broken,” wife Dee Dee Sorvino said in a statement. “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.”
Sorvino’s publicist told The Associated Press his client died from natural causes Monday morning in Indiana.
Born in Brooklyn in 1939, Sorvino studied at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York, making his Broadway debut in 1964 in “Bajour” and his film debut in Carl Reiner’s “Where’s Poppa?” in 1970.
Sorvino, who reportedly stood 6-foot-4, was a familiar face in films and television over his 50-year career. He played a communist in Warren Beatty’s “Reds,” Henry Kissinger in Oliver Stone’s “Nixon” and mob boss Eddie Valentine in “The Rocketeer.”
His gritty turn as NYPD Detective Sgt. Phil Cerreta on 31 episodes of Dick Wolf’s “Law & Order” from 1991 to 1992 won him loyal New York fans. His role as statesman Henry Kissinger in “Nixon” won him a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination.
But it was his role as mobster Paulie Cicero in Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas,” based on the real-life mobster Paul Vario, that saw him gain fame — and led him to be forever remembered for playing gangsters. Despite that, he often said his true passions were painting, poetry and opera.
”Most people think I’m either a gangster or a cop or something,” he said. “The reality is I’m a sculptor, a painter, a best-selling author, many, many things — a poet, an opera singer, but none of them is gangster … It would be nice to have my legacy more than that of just ‘tough guy.’”
He was preceded in death by his “Goodfellas” co-star Ray Liotta, 67, who died in his sleep while filming in the Dominican Republic on May 26.
When Sorvino learned disgraced filmmaker Harvey Weinstein had made advances on his daughter Mira and allegedly tried to derail her career, he said the movie mogul was lucky to be heading to prison.
“Good for him if he goes,” Sorvino told TMZ in 2018. “Cause if not, he’ll meet me and I’ll kill the motherf—er.”
“Sopranos” actor Federico Castelluccio’s heart was also heavy after learning of Sorvino’s death.
“I’m really so upset right now,” Castelluccio told the Daily News from his New Jersey home. “I can’t really believe it.”
Castelluccio, who played Sicilian mob enforcer Furio Giunta on the HBO gangster series, recalled meeting Sorvino about 15 years ago right before a bill signing for the arts in the Garden State.
Castelluccio, who’d been a big fan of Sorvino’s work, recognized him right away. Sorvino asked Castelluccio if they’d met, then recognized him. “Wait a minute, you’re not the guy from ‘The Sopranos,’ are you? The Italian guy?” Sorvino asked.
He said Sorvino called him a “phenomenal” actor and continued talking despite the fact the event they were attending was underway.
“It was almost embarrassing,” Castelluccio said with a laugh. “It was a huge compliment.”
They remained friends, last seeing each other about a year ago in Atlantic City. Castelluccio said Sorvino had been having some health issues as of late, but that didn’t make Monday’s news easier to take.
In addition to being a solid actor, Castelluccio remembers Sorvino as a fantastic sculptor, pianist and pool player.
“He was an expert in almost everything,” Castelluccio said.
Sorvino’s talents may have also included clairvoyance. Days before the 2016 election, he told the Daily News that Donald Trump had the win locked up.
“Trump I’ve known for 30 years,” he said. “We played softball together.”
Months later, Sorvino told The News he and his wife were fielding offers to do a cooking show following the success of their cookbook “Pinot, Pasta and Parties.” Dee Dee Sorvino called her husband a “gentleman chef” and said that mixing drinks and dropping “f-bombs” was her job.
“With my characters, the f-bomb is every fourth or fifth word,” he said. “That’s the character, that’s not me.”
With News Wire Services
Top Feature Photo: Paul Sorvino arrives at the 29th annual Producers Guild Awards at the Beverly Hilton on Saturday, Jan 20, 2018 – Richard Shotwell/Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP