Paul Sorvino, The Lovably Intense “That Guy” That Everybody Knew

By James David Patrick

Character actors and actresses work tirelessly for decades to become a “that guy” or “that girl.” Movie fans know the face but struggle to attach a name. Instantly recognizable, forever anonymous.

Paul Sorvino transcended Hollywood’s supporting caste system, however, to become a “that guy” and a known commodity. He routinely played tough guys and gangsters that could cut anyone down with a piercing gaze. He’s best known for his role as Paulie Cicero in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas (1990), merely one of over 170 TV and movie credits listed on While leading roles were rare, screen time never cemented his legacy. Like the greatest of supporting actors, Paul Sorvino – and I’m not exaggerating in the slightest – could make an entire film with one scene, one cameo, one glare.

Sorvino passed away on Monday, July 25th at the age of 83. Daughter Mira Sorvino wrote on Twitter: “My heart is rent asunder – a life of love and joy and wisdom with him is over. He was the most wonderful father. I love him so much. I’m sending you love in the stars, Dad, as you ascend.”

But beyond Goodfellas, How should we, as rabid movie watchers and cinephiles, celebrate a career spent living for and in the moment? By looking back and some of those greatest moments.

I’ve compiled the following list of Paul Sorvino appearances that I hope celebrates the actor’s career, highlighting some of his best scenes but also the breadth of his ability beyond the tough guy. These are some of my favorite Paul Sorvino appearances and not all of them required a bespoke suit.

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