In Mighty Aphrodite, Lenny Weinrib (Woody Allen) and his wife Amanda (Helena Bonham Carter) want to have a baby, but Amanda doesn’t want to get pregnant because it would distract from her demanding career. Instead, the couple adopts a child whom they name Max. As Max grows up, Lenny and Amanda begin to realize that he has an extremely high level of intelligence, and so Lenny becomes obsessed with finding out whom Max’s birth mother is. He tracks her down and learns that she is prostitute and porn-star Linda Ash (Mira Sorvino). Lenny meets her, tries numerous times to get her to quit her jobs, and sets her up on blind dates. Lenny and Linda wind up having a brief affair, resulting in a pregnancy, which she does not tell Lenny about. A year later, the two meet in a toy store, Lenny with Max and Linda with her baby, and they don’t even realize they have each other’s children.
Woody Allen based his script for Mighty Aphrodite on the mythological story of Pygmalion, which was the inspiration for George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, which in turn was the inspiration for the musical My Fair Lady. The 1985 film Weird Science and the 1987 filmMannequin were also inspired by the story of Pygmalion. Pygmalion was a gifted sculptor from Cyprus who had no interest in the local women as he found them immoral and frivolous. Instead Pygmalion concentrated on his art until one day he ran across a large, flawless piece of ivory and decided to carve a beautiful woman from it. When he had finished the statue, Pygmalion found it so lovely and the image of his ideal woman that he clothed the figure and adorned her in jewels. He gave the statue a name: Galatea, sleeping love. He found himself obsessed with his ideal woman so he went to the temple of Aphrodite to ask forgiveness for all the years he had shunned her and beg for a wife who would be as perfect as his statue. When Pygmalion returned to his home, he found Galatea alive, and humbled himself at her feet. Pygmalion and Galatea were wed, and Pygmalion never forgot to thank Aphrodite for the gift she had given him.
Several Manhattan locations were used in the filming of Mighty Aphrodite. Central Park, which is visited on the Central Park TV & Movie Sites Tour, is the setting for the scene where Woody Allen sets up Mira Sorvino and Michael Rappaport on their blind date. FAO Schwarz is the famous toy store where the ending of the movie takes place. FAO Schwarz is recognizable from the movie Big, where Tom Hanks’ character plays the huge foot piano. Many celebrities, including Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Cindy Crawford and Angelina Jolie, bring their kids here to enjoy a fun family time with lots of entertainments for everyone.FAO closed its doors in 2015.
Mighty Aphrodite is one of the only Woody Allen films that differs from his usual style of credits. Rather than the actors’ names listed in alphabetical order in white on a still black background, the credits in Mighty Aphrodite are superimposed on a background of the chorus members dancing. After the picture fades, the credits begin to scroll, rather than remain still.
In a 2005 interview, Woody Allen said that he had wanted his ex-wife Mia Farrow to play the role of Amanda, his wife in the film, even after their bitter, infamous divorce. When he discussed the possibility of offering the role to Farrow with his casting director, the casting director replied, “What, are you nuts?”
For her work in Mighty Aphrodite, Mira Sorvino received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, as well as the Golden Globe. The film was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
* In an effort to stay current, we are constantly updating our tours with new locations and cannot guarantee the presence of locations mentioned on our site. If you have a particular interest in locations from a specific TV show or movie, please let your tour guide know and we will do our best to accommodate your request.