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Mira Sorvino Chats About Her Upcoming Role on House and Hugh Laurie

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Amid all the hoopla for Sunday’s Superbowl, House fans (even those of us who could care less about the Superbowl, besides the commercials) have something to cheer about. Mira Sorvino guest stars in “Frozen,” scheduled to air in the desirable post-Superbowl time slot on FOX.

The Oscar-winning Sorvino has starred in such critically acclaimed films as Quiz Show, and Woody Allen’s Mighty Aphrodite (1995), for which she won not only an Academy Award but also a Golden Globe. Sorvino graciously took time from her busy schedule as actress and mom to chat for a bit about her upcoming appearance on the House and its star, Hugh Laurie.

Sorvino plays Cate, a teaching fellow on leave from the show’s Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital. She seeks out Dr. House when she suffers extreme incapacitating and unexplained kidney pain. But there’s an added problem: thousands of miles separate House from his patient, a psychiatrist stationed at a remote Antarctic research station, where Cate serves as the staff physician. House’s only access to his patient is via webcam!

The only doctor on staff, Cate is forced, under House’s direction, to perform diagnostic medical procedures on herself. “She doesn’t want to use up any of the medical supplies on theoretical diagnoses,” explained Sorvino, “because she feels that that will hurt her colleagues’ chance of surviving, trapped down there (in Antarctica).” As fans of the show know, House’s usual mode of diagnosis involves quite a bit of theory testing. Instant conflict!

Despite the conflict between the two strong-willed doctors, Sorvino sees House and Cate as sort of kindred spirits. “They understand each other. I feel that she gets him in a way that none of the actual people in his world get him. I think she really understands him and appreciates him and sees a deeper side of him than a lot of other people see because they write him off as this sarcastic curmudgeon, but actually I think she sees a bit of a heart and tortured soul in him.”

And Sorvino believes that the connection goes both ways. “I think he feels sympathy for her when she’s really all alone and has to diagnosis herself constantly and things go from bad to worse.“ Like the best episodes, agreed Sorvino, House and Cate seem to form a bond. “There’s actually a little bit of chemistry between the two of us,” she shared. “It’s not just a patient-doctor relationship. It’s more like a meeting of the minds between two somewhat similar people. There’s this nice little subplot, chemistry, sexual tension.”

Hugh Laurie Frozen courtesy FOXOne scene requires Cate to examine herself over the webcam, and under House’s watchful eye. The scene has more than the usual tension, suggested Sorvino, as House observes her “from the comfort of his living room with a roaring fire going on and he starts playing ‘Let’s Get It On’. But it’s kind of odd because she’s looking for cancer.”

In fact, there might be some opportunity for that tension to be revisited in the future. Sorvino would love to return to the House set “for a more intense relationship, perhaps romance, to grow between them.” Perhaps a multi-episode story arc. And Cate has to come back from the Antarctic sometime. House and a psychiatrist! Now that would make for a few sparks. [Author’s note: Yes. I know we’ve heard this sort of talk before, but I sort of like the notion that a smart, tough, professional woman would make for a great love interest for House. On the other hand, I haven’t yet seen the episode, so more about that when I write my review of the episode.]

One might speculate that a psychiatrist would have a field day with the troubled and tormented Gregory House, unable to resist the urge to psychoanalyze him. But, shared Ms. Sorvino, this is not really the case. Yes, they spar; and at one point she reads off a litany of his issues. Accustomed to everyone from his colleagues to his staff, and yes, his patients, trying to “fix” him, House then suggests, of course, that Cate, particularly being a shrink, will want to take her best shot at him too. Cate surprises House by telling him: "I never said you needed to be fixed."

Sorvino suggested that “everybody else is always trying to change him and they’re always moralizing. I feel like Wilson is always missing the fact that House is actually a good guy.” If Sorvino sounds like a fan of the series, you are not mistaken. In fact, she admitted, she’s an addict!

Admitting that she is a “geeky” House fan, she said that it was her favorite series. “I became absolutely addicted to House and just thought it was so intelligent — and thought Hugh is so fantastic (as well as) the writing and the other characters.”

Meeting Hugh Laurie at the Golden Globes in 2005, both nominated, she recalls just “gushing” to Hugh about how much she loved the show. “And I think I might have frightened him,” she joked.

She was delighted when, three years later, she was offered a terrifically written role on her favorite show. Sorvino believes that being a fan of the series made it easier, giving her more confidence in her role, which called upon her to have “instant rapport” with House. She understands his loneliness, Sorvino reflected, while he gets her “solitary stubbornness." “You feel like there’s a potential for more, and that if they weren’t millions of miles away, something might happen.”

Mira Sorvino Courtesty FOXSorvino loved working with Hugh Laurie, and like so many guest stars on House, she had nothing but praise for Laurie, noting his well-known supportiveness and generosity as an actor. Sorvino explained that because the episode was shot in a unique way, the only contact between patient Cate and House was via webcam. They were never on camera together. “Hugh was awfully generous,” she offered. “He would come and sit off-camera for me, even though we weren’t physically in the same room. He was actually shooting two episodes at once while I was doing my episode. Hugh is hopping from sound stage to sound stage, and he still found the time to come around and do off-camera with me.”

Although unfamiliar with his British comedy work during the 1990s, she noted his “amazing” timing, which enables his character to get away with saying the most “shocking or rude” things. “But,” she pointed “he knows he can get away with it, kind of like a naughty boy. Off camera, like his onscreen character, Hugh is both funny and “very smart.”

“Frozen,” airs immediately after the Superbowl, Sunday night on FOX. The final new episode before the strike-induced hiatus resumes (indefinitely, as of this writing) will air on Tuesday, February 5.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.
  • hl_lover

    Nicely written, Barbara!
    How fantastic to be offered a guest role on your favorite show, appearing with one of your favorite actors. Mira’s enthusiasm really shows, and I hope the show lives up to not only the post-Super Bowl-slot hype, but also to the teases and spoiler-bits that have been given us. Her insight into Dr. House’s psyche should give her performance added punch.
    Am looking forward to this episode more than the SB commercials!

  • http://community.livejournal.com/house_reviews Barbara Barnett

    Mira was delightful to speak with. I felt that when I was talking to her it really was “fan-to-fan” as much as interviewer to star.

    I am completely psyched about this Sunday’s episode (and of course tomorrow night’s as well)

    barbara

  • sdemar

    Good job, Sasmom. After reading the TV Guide, I don’t get the feeling that these two had any sort of relationship other than just knowing each other.

  • http://community.livejournal.com/house_reviews Barbara Barnett

    I didn’t get the impression either that they had been “involved”. But I did get the impression that the characters had perhaps known each other from the hospital (and was maybe why she called on House). But I have no idea, other than guessing.

  • Susanne

    Nicely written. I liked it.

    But oh dear, more sexual chemistry as if we don’t have enough of that already and her unstanding of him better than anyone else? Pick a number and stand in line with the rest of us, the list goes for 3 1/2 years long. Afer reading the tv guide me stomach just feels sick, are these women nothing but love interests for House? Surely there has to be more to them then that. How is cuddy an cameron strong this season? Between cam’s bumbling speech to both the camera and the locker room and cuddy being degraded to a walking doormat and sex objecct I’m thinking what has happened?
    The “Lets get it on” scene creeps me out a bit, I hope that it is better than it sounds I don’t want to think that House is a dirty old man.
    But other than that she seems sweet.

  • http://community.livejournal.com/house_reviews Barbara Barnett

    Well, Hugh Laurie has chemistry with everyone, so…

    I’m not sure it’s the sort of crush-y kind of sexual chemistry. I think she probably finds him interesting (she’s a psychologist, so that’s a given) and something strikes within him that resonates and makes him care. We know that House has a very deep reservoir of caring–and when he does care about a patient–when a patient strikes that caring-chord in him, he can be the most compassionate doctor and person on the planet. I think he keeps it tightly under wraps–or tries to–and sometimes with only limited success.

    I think Cameron’s being flustered in “Ugly” had more to do with her embarrassment at having said something unguardedly stupid that she no longer believes. I don’t think she likes House in that way at this point. And I do think Cameron has travelled a long way since season one and her need for House’s approval. (As has Chase). With Cuddy, I think that House’s feelings coming more to the surface (again he would deny it) last season has had an effect on her. She and House go back a long way, and their bickering has always been part of the series. She has his number and he knows it and she knows he knows it, but lets him play anyway. In the end she usually wins (unless he has a good reason, and then she relents).

    I really don’t mind that House forms an attachment with this woman. it is so House to become enamoured of someone who is inaccessible. He can keep up his barrier; she doesn’t even have to know that he is handicapped–makes him less (in his eyes) hunchback-of-notre-dame-ish. (and I’m a House/cuddy person, so…)

  • Susanne

    I agree.
    This makes me feel a whole lot better. I saw afew clips it looks good. I won’t be dissapointe after all.
    I’m a House/cameron person but at the end of the day ships shoudn’t be a huge factor on the show at least I hope they shouldn’t

    Thankyou for your response. I feel way better.

  • http://community.livejournal.com/house_reviews Barbara Barnett

    Glad to help, Susanne! I am so psyched for Sunday’s episode, I’m having trouble concentrating on writing my review of last night’s episode!

    I saw those clips also. Love them!

  • http://www.myspace.com/x15 Douglas Mays

    BB,

    Thank you for the heads up with your article. I am a HUGE Mira Sorvino fan! In a good way (being a guy you find that you have to defend admiration for female actors as a non-sex, pro acting/personality thing)!

    No matter how twisted the situation the script provides, she always maintains this down to earth, human value vibe. And she is a well educated person! And seems so personable…

    Anyway, I’ll have the TV focused in.

    Mira fan,
    DM

  • http://community.livejournal.com/house_reviews Barbara Barnett

    Hey Douglas! Glad you happened upon this place. Mira seemed to be so completely down to earth and unaffected. I really liked her. I’ve seen several of her films. Quiz Show is one of my favorite movie of all she was terrific; ralph fiennes is a particular favorite of mine; Paul Scofield. what a cast! I even liked Mimic. (Jeremy Northam is another favorite–I do have a thing for British actors, don’t I?)

    This will be a perfect episode for Sunday. Can’t wait, and be sure to stop back to read my commentary on the episode (and I will hopefully make a House fan of you!)

    Barbara

  • http://www.myspace.com/x15 Douglas Mays

    Yes, Mira has made some interesting films. “Mighty Aphrodite” is a head spinner, yet she maintains her grace. “Mimic”? that is a tough one but she pulled it off.

    You know, one I found interesting from a ‘public must know’ point of view is the one she did about Human Traffic-ing. Can’t remember the exact title, but she plays an up and coming ‘go get ‘em’ detective and exposes some realities in this country…

    Go Mira! We love you….

    best,
    DM

  • http://community.livejournal.com/house_reviews Barbara Barnett

    Hey, Dan,

    There are a couple of clips up at the FOX website you might enjoy. Do you normally watch House?
    Barbara

  • http://www.myspace.com/x15 Douglas Mays

    BB,

    No, not a House addict yet. I am just a guy who is very selective about the TV nowadays. It all comes down to being ‘screened out’. Between the TV, computer, cell phone toys, etc. I am just sick of looking at screens. You think I’m going to fall for the books on computer and all that stuff?

    ANYWAY, the other cool thing about Mira is her alternative headspace. Anyone who was married to Quinten T has got to be OK in my book….

    best,
    Douglas M

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