Anne Marie from the AFI Fest on an International Legend...
At age 80, Sophia Loren is still magnetic. When the Academy Award-winning actress appeared onstage at the Dolby Theatre on Wednesday night for an AFI Fest tribute to her career, she received a two-minute long standing ovation. The audience whooped and yelled "Bellisima" before Loren, elegant in a black gown studded with crystals, could do more than walk onstage and smile. Once the furor died down, Rob Marshall, her director for Nine, interviewed Sophia Loren about her career, co-stars, and controversies.
“When I saw the movies, I forgot the war, forgot hunger. It was possible to believe there was another life than the one I was in.”
Despite her glamorous image, Loren's description of her early life growing up poor in the slums of Italy was bleak. When she met her husband, producer Carlo Ponti (who passed away in 2007), he took an active role in shaping her career. Ponti was the one who brought her to America after a successful Italian film career and encouraged her to learn English (“you have to learn English, because movies are in English"). Of course, we all know how that turned out. She had a hugely successful international film career, starring in films by some of the best American and Italian directors (not Fellini, of whom she said “I was not his kind of actress"), and an Oscar in 1961 for Two Women, a movie to which she felt deeply connected, since it reflected her own impoverished childhood.
Besides an illustrious film career, Sophia Loren also has a wicked sense of humor. She was happy to dish on her various famous co-leading men. Here are some scattered observations:
On Cary Grant: "...a great actor, absolutely incredible as a person, as a man.”
Peter Sellars: “very melancholic person. He would light up only when the director said action.”
Clark Gable: "He had a watch and it rang every evening at 5. When it rang, he would leave without saying goodbye."
Daniel Day Lewis: "One of the best alive."
Marlon Brando: <shrug> "Eh."
But of course, nothing could top her most famous moment of shade, the immortal side-eye she gave Jayne Mansfield at a Hollywood party. Rob Marshall showed Loren the picture, and asked her exactly what was going through her mind. Here, for a brief moment, Loren was at a loss for words.
"I was afraid that everything would... come out!"
The tribute concluded with two films starring the legendary actress: her son Edoardo Ponti's short film, The Human Voice, and Marriage Italian Style, the 1964 film for which Loren earned her second Academy Award nomination. As Sophia Loren rose to leave the stage before the movies began, she received another standing ovation. She paused briefly, clearly touched, and then swept away.