One On One With Sophia Loren
An exclusive interview with the timeless silver screen legend, devoted wife and mother
Q & A With Ava Roosevelt
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, My Life, is Sophia Loren’s brilliant tale of her journey through a poverty stricken childhood to becoming one of the most celebrated actresses of our times. Told in an engaging narrative, her book provokes tears and admiration for her tireless quest to rise from the ashes of war-torn Naples, Italy, to fulfill her dreams of stardom
Sophia Loren was born Sofia Villani Scicolone, a daughter of Romilda Villani and Riccardo Scicolone, a construction engineer of noble descent. Overcoming her father’s abandonment and her mother’s negativity is a tribute to her strength and determination to succeed in a career in motion pictures that spans six decades and at 81, is far from over.
Her notable film appearances include “Houseboat,” “That Kind of Woman”, “It Started in Naples,” “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” “Marriage Italian Style,” and “Two Women” for which she earned 22 international awards, including an Oscar for best performance in a leading role. Ms. Loren graciously agreed to sit down with South Florida Opulence to talk about her life.
Ava: I know firsthand that writing can be a heart-wrenching experience. What most inspired you to write?
Ms. Loren: I wrote my book because after I worked so much, I had the urge to let it all out. I want to share with the people who see my films all the beautiful things that have happened to me. The cinema had a great impact on my life, early on, you know. When I was very young during the War in my little town, my family and I were living a very sad life. We constantly struggled and endured a near-starvation. So many times, even during the bombardment, with the planes flying above us, my sister and I were sneaking into the movie theatre. We had an urge to see what life was like outside of our little war-torn village. There was a lot of hope when we came out of the movie theatre. It was another world that I was trying …I wanted really to discover.
And so, in writing, I came with many other thoughts and things that happened to me during my work. I wanted to share it also with the people who went to see me in the movies. And maybe people will be interested.
Ava: I was very interested in your life story, Ms. Loren. It is true, it brings your fans closer to you. I felt like I got to know you. Tell us about your friends, please.
Ms. Loren: My friends…they’ve always been very understanding with me. And I could say that, through the letters or maybe when I walk in the street, just the look they have in their eyes when they see me. It’s really very positive. And also very moving. I cry easily, as a matter of fact.
Ava: Who has influenced your life the most?
Ms. Loren: I think…myself. When you are 10 years old…11…12… you don’t really know how bad some people are or could be…and this question of killing…this question of every night going through a tunnel and living where the train was passing by at 4 o’clock in the morning…and cockroaches. Also because, I’m talking about a little girl starting to live…starting to open her eyes…and what we saw. It was really terrible. I think I’m going to write another book! (Laughs.)
Ava: Your warmth and your kindness are apparent in your prose. How did you manage to survive in a business filled with jealousy and back-stabbing being so nice?
Ms. Loren: I never looked for quarrel. I never looked for bad things. I always tried to understand if there was a problem and to try to understand the reason. I’ve never been somebody who would attack people, because, really, I didn’t know how to do it. Maybe with kindness…maybe with simplicity…you realize yourself that it is much, much stronger.
Ava: From Cary Grant to Marlon Brando, you played opposite extraordinary leading men. Were you ever attracted to any of them?
Ms. Loren: All of them…no…I’m joking. I had to learn a lot in these movies. I didn’t attend a proper school of acting, you know. Especially when I was doing American films. I knew just very little, almost nothing, of English. So I had to learn my lines in a very precise way. I was very proud to act with the biggest actors in film in my career. In the beginning of my career, I met a wonderful man who came from the south of Italy, Naples.His name was Vittorio de Sica. I was fortunate enough to do with him
a very popular film titled “The Gold of Naples.” Little by little, I started to work together with Vittorio and he became like a father to me. And it was really a wonderful feeling.
Ava: Did the leading men help you?
Ms. Loren: No, because I was the leading lady. There was no leading man. So I would tell myself, “Sophia,
I think you can do that. Just learn. Just open your eyes and your ears. And listen to
Vittorio and he’s going to help you for sure.
He did! God bless his soul.”
Ava: By the time you met Italian film producer Carlo Ponti, you were barely getting established. How did he influence your career and your life?
Ms. Loren: Well, I met him when I was 17 at a beauty pageant. He was in the jury. I was there with a friend of mine who was participating. I was there eating and Carlo Ponti sent me a little card saying: “Why don’t you participate [in the beauty pageant]?” And I said, “Well, it’s fun…maybe I will…yes…and I did. But in my heart I thought, “If I’m going to be second, I will be very lucky.” So I became second. But I met a man who later on became the love of my life, Carlo.
He was a big producer, he was an intelligent man. He had a great sense of humor. He was a very cultivated man. That’s all I needed really because I was completely hungry for things that I could learn and be a better human being. So when he asked me to go to see him in his office at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I did. I found Carlo and a little later we went to dinner together. He started to teach me how to do things, but in a very, very subtle way. He never offended me. Never. So, little by little, this friendship grew and we started to do many pictures. We lived our lives together for about 45 years. He produced almost all the films I made… “Two Women”, “Marriage, Italian Style”, “A Special Day”, “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”.
With him I felt secure. I wanted a family, but of course at that time, he was married. But our relationship grew, grew and grew. And here I am being his wife and having 2 beautiful children that are the joy of my life. I’m starting to be very moved!
Ava: Tell us about your relationship with your children, please.
Ms. Loren: Unfortunately, my children do not live with me because they live in America and I live in Geneva and this is something that upsets me sometimes. But they are always with me because they call me every night. I think is the most beautiful feeling that a woman can have when you embrace your child for the first time.
Ava: You are scheduled to appear at the Kravis Center on March 28. Palm Beach is a long way from home. Why here?
Ms. Loren: I really don’t know America. I’ll get the opportunity to know my American audiences and to know a lot of my friends from Americans who see my films and know me. Like I did for my book. You have a question and I will answer it. I hope you like me, that’s all!
An Evening with Sophia Loren is a show about me and my life. We start with an interview section, then a question and answer section where you can ask me anything, and then a ‘meet and greet’ opportunity afterward. I like to be surprised. I’m a very shy person in the beginning, so I don’t like to know things in advance. And then, little by little, I get acquainted and I may enjoy it a lot. I’m doing 12 cities in America.
Ava: How is your life today? What gives you the most joy?
Ms. Loren: To wake up in the morning with a smile on my face. And the desire to challenge myself as usual. This tour is a big challenge. This is my first tour in America. It’s a new experience!
Ava: What would you consider to be your greatest accomplishment to date? And what is your biggest regret?
Ms. Loren: Greatest accomplishment? Everything! I couldn’t ask for more! Although I do have a little regret. I wish I could have performed once on Broadway. I was asked once. Something with Bernstein, maybe. “Marriage, Italian Style” onstage. But life is always a surprise if you want it to be. Maybe I will go with another idea which is absolutely smashing.
Ava: Thank you so much, Ms. Loren. It was such a pleasure getting to know you better. And we’re all looking forward to seeing you live onstage at the Kravis Center on March 28!