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Annabella Sciorra



"I ALWAYS FEEL THAT MY CHARACTERS are more interesting than I am," muses Annabella Sciorra somewhat modestly. "I am shy but I always feel that my characters can express themselves. They are a part of me, you know, but for some reason I feel more comfortable expressing myself through a character than as me. " The characters that the second-generation Italian actress normally portrays are, of course, the nice trusting Woman type, capitalizing on her darkly appealing, traditionally unglamorous – some would call them "normal" – looks. Small roles in The Hard Way, Reversal Of Fortune and Internal Affairs led to her playing a naive office temp who becomes sexually involved with angry young architect Wesley Snipes in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever; the yuppie mother who almost loses her life, limbs, family and inhaler (though not necessarily in that order) to straitjacket case Rebecca De Mornay in The Hand that Rocks The Cradle; a standard Hollywood psychiatrist who gets to involved with patients and may be in love with a killer in Whispers In The Dark; and now, in The Night We Never Met, released this month, a bored suburban housewife with an unfulfilled and burning ambition – paint. 

"I think Annabella's look is unusual, attractive, not glamorous in the same way," offers Whispers director-screenwriter Christopher Crowe. "What's good about her is that she's a very instinctual actress," adds actor Anthony LaPaglia, who co-stars with her as a hard-drinking cop in the film. "When she works with you you're not sure what's going to happen. She has great eyes. When I look at her eyes there's always something going on, even if she's not saying anything. It's a gift for other actors to have that because it all gets very connected. The belief level of the scene goes way up." 

Sciorra, personally, is something of an enigma - at times she's quite personable, rambling on about her close bond with her parents (dad is a veterinarian, mum a fashion stylist) and three brothers ("I talk to them two or three times a day"); at others she becomes decidedly Garboesque in her aloofness ("I do not discuss by personal life," she retorts when asked, quite simply, if she is married). Born in Connecticut, Annabella studied acting with Dennis Moore. She lets on that she lives in New York City and says she's proud of her Italian heritage. She's unsure about how she selects roles – "It depends on the writing, maybe; on how the meeting goes" – and denies that there was any friction with Spike Lee, as the press claimed in its many accounts of Jungle Fever

"Spike allowed me to express myself completely. Not only on the set but in the dining room. He gave me my moments. He really gave it to me. He didn't Cut anything. When I saw that movie 1 thought, 'Wow, it's all there. Everything I wanted to be there, everything I wanted to communicate, it was all there.' I'm proud of being a part of that movie."

Her next adventure in innocence, Mr. Wonderful, will find her sleeping with William Hurt while still in love with ex-husband Matt Dillon. "It's a very romantic story," she claims. And for Sciorra it will be another chance to do what she's happiest doing. "I've always wanted to act – always, always, always," she gushes. "I love to act."

EMPIRE, August 1992