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As SAG Awards voting begins today, the acting races are still evolving. To showcase Sophia Loren’s return to performing, Netflix released a new featurette for Edoardo Ponti’s “The Life Ahead,”…
As SAG Awards voting begins today, the acting races are still evolving. To showcase Sophia Loren’s return to performing, Netflix released a new featurette for Edoardo Ponti’s “The Life Ahead,” starring his Academy Award-winning mother. The featurette highlights the relationship between Ponti’s sensitive and compelling direction and how Loren brought Madame Rosa’s toughness and fragility was derived from her own mother.
In an interview with Variety, the Italian star of “Ready to Wear” and “Marriage Italian Style” talks about working with her son Edoardo, the possibility of making history in the best actress race and if we would ever see her on television or the Broadway stage.
What was so different about being directed by your son versus all the other filmmakers you’ve worked with within the past?
Sophia Loren: We have this shorthand. He just needs to look at me in a certain way, or say one word, or just hold my hand, and I know exactly what he wants. He also pushes me to reach my potential in a way that maybe other directors might be shy to do. Other directors might stop at the third take; he’ll go on and on until he’s gotten the most authentic version of the moment because he knows me so well that I can’t get away with anything. Sometimes it’s tiring, but at the end of every shooting day, I feel excited to start again the next day.
If you’re nominated for best actress this year, you will be the oldest nominee in that category’s history. How does that make you feel? What message does that send to women at your age in Hollywood?
Loren: Truthfully, it’s hard to believe I am 86 years old. I don’t feel 86 because I love what I do. Passion keeps you young, waking up every morning with a new plan, a new story to tell, a new character to play. That excitement for life, that purpose is what keeps me going and looking forward to tomorrow. When the past becomes more interesting than the future, that’s when you start getting old. I have a lot left to do!
If you’re nominated for best actress, you will be the first woman (and mother) to be directed to an Academy Award nomination by their son. What does that say about the industry? How does that make you feel?
Loren: I’m not sure what it says about the industry, but I know how it makes me feel: grateful, overwhelmed and overjoyed to have such a rapport with my son that we can tell stories together and work together in such a way. It is hard to describe the feeling, but I recommend it and wish it upon everyone.
You won an Academy Award for “Two Women” in 1960 for best actress, which was the first performance to win that was not in the English language. There’s only been one other actress to win since (Marion Cotillard in “La Vie en Rose”). Do you still feel like a pioneer for women in Hollywood and how they are perceived?
Loren: Thank you for the compliment, but I’ve never felt like a pioneer. I feel like a mother and a working actress who every day tries to do the best she can. If my work can inspire women to have the courage to follow their own dreams and be themselves, that makes me very happy. The less you think about yourself in the third person, the more you stay truthful and honest. I try to let my instincts inspire my next move, not vanity or legacy.
60 years after your win, we saw the first film win best picture, not in the English language (“Parasite”). What message do you have for audiences and journalists who don’t seek or are not open to the international cinema?
Loren: First of all, I feel that more and more people are giving non-English speaking films a chance. In my 70-year long career, “The Life Ahead” was my biggest film opening ever. That is a testament to people’s growing desire to watch films in all languages because no matter the words being spoken, the language of cinema is universal. It is the language of our shared and common destinies, the language of love, of connection. We need no translation or subtitles for that. The heart understands there where words are superfluous.
This is your first role in 11 years. What made you say “yes” to this project? Was it difficult to say, “yes?”
Loren: If saying “yes” is difficult, then what you really mean to say is “no,” you just don’t know how to say it. In this case, it was very easy to say “yes.” I didn’t think about it for more than 10 seconds. I said yes to a great story of love, empathy and tolerance. I said yes to a character I’ve wanted to play for many years. I said yes to working with my son for the third time. Yes, yes, and yes.
Your first credited film role was in “Le sei mogli di Barbablù” in 1950. If you were that same age today, would you still want to pursue a movie industry career?
Loren: Always. If you have a passion, you can’t help yourself but pursue it. It’s like an itch you have to scratch. No matter what, no matter the circumstances or the environment. Your life has to be a story you need to tell. When you have a passion, it’s not about choice. It’s about life or death. In this profession, there is no room for a plan B. Only when you risk it all, when you put everything on the line, you have a true shot at reaching your potential in this business. It’s like a love affair, painful, heartbreaking, but so worth it in the end.
Is there any desire to do television or Broadway to complete your EGOT?
Loren: Television yes, Broadway no. I am too scared of performing in front of a live audience. The mere thought of it makes me want to faint. If that means I will never get an EGOT, “pazienza.” (Italian for “so be it.”)