The actress says she'd do just about anything to protect her three little ones - daughter Mattea, 5½, and sons Johnny, 4, and Holden, 15 months - with husband Christopher Backus.

By peoplestaff225
Updated September 17, 2010 04:00 PM
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Warning: Do not get between Mira Sorvino and her kids.

The actress says she’d do just about anything to protect her three little ones — daughter Mattea, 5½, and sons Johnny, 4, and Holden, 15 months — with husband Christopher Backus.

“I would die for my children. I would kill for my children if someone were trying to hurt them,” the actress, who plays a mother in her new film Like Dandelion Dust, tells PEOPLE.

“I have become a very fierce mama bear, and I’d lay down my life in a heartbeat if it could save theirs.”

That maternal instinct is something she easily tapped into for her latest role as woman struggling with the consequences of her decision to give up her newborn son after her husband goes to prison.

“I have three beautiful children who I love more than anything else in the whole world, so anything having to do with your children and potentially losing them is very, very personal to me,” says Sorvino. “I didn’t have to do much to get to the emotional place [of my character].”

Sorvino’s real life is focused on being a mom and wife — and she is loving every minute of it.

“We’re very, ‘Let’s get up and go. Let’s have an adventure somewhere,’ ” she says of her family. “We drive a lot of places and have done probably every kid-friendly activity that there is in Los Angeles.”

She can’t help but gush that her kids “are really wonderful, wonderful children. They’re so loving and bright and cute and funny. I just treasure every second I have with them.”

To balance her home life with her career, the actress takes movies that have short shooting schedules and often brings her kids with her to movie sets, carting along “quilts and colored Christmas lights and art supplies and books to help make it a home away from home.”

Though she admits to sometimes feeling “exhausted” by the demands of work and motherhood, Sorvino, 42, also gets great pleasure from her work.

In Like Dandelion Dust, hitting theaters Sept. 24, her character and rehabilitated husband, who’s been freed from jail, try to reclaim their son who has since been adopted by another couple.

Though the subject matter is gritty and highly emotional, Sorvino says she’s received positive feedback from wide-ranging audiences at screenings, something she says is about “the universality of the love of children” that is at the forefront of the film.

“This is may be the one movie I’ve done that has an ability to touch everybody,” she says, “and I’m as proud of it as anything I’ve done so far.”

— Marla Lehner