Oscar-winner Sophia Loren to speak at the Ridgefield Playhouse
What kinds of tales does an actress have after gaining one of the most infamous names in film? Sophia Loren, an actress from Hollywood’s Golden Age, wasn’t quite ready to spill the beans when we spoke to her about her upcoming show at the Ridgefield Playhouse.
“It is always different, always a mystery,” Loren said about her Nov. 16 event, “Sophia Loren: An Evening with an Icon.”
The event, which is marketed as a “intimate conversation” with Loren will include clips from her film career and an audience Q&A with the Oscar-winning actress.
Loren was born Sophia Scicolone in 1934 in Italy to a single mother. Nicknamed the Italian Marilyn Monroe, she first began her acting career in Rome as a teenager after she was discovered by Italian producer Carlo Ponti, whom she married in 1966 and later rounded out their family when they had two sons.
Over the summer the talented octogenarian kept herself busy filming her new movie “The Life Ahead,” under the direction of her son Edoardo Ponti. “The Life Ahead” is the first feature film she’s worked on since filming “Nine” with Daniel Day-Lewis in 2009. When asked why Loren decided to work on this particular film, she said, “It’s very dramatic — I play a caring but strong woman. And Edoardo directed it so I didn’t have to audition.” Ponti’s film is an adaptation of French novelist Romain Gary’s book “The Life Before Us.”
In the film, Loren plays Madame Rosa, a Holocaust survivor, who forges a bond with a 12-year-old Senegalese immigrant named Momo. Loren knowing her craft chose not to do any research in preparation for her role.
“I didn’t do any research but I know that woman,” she said. “She has had hurt in her life and she must be strong to overcome that. I know how to do that.”
When pressed for more details about her new role, Loren chose to maintain her cloak of mystery. “I don’t want to spoil it, but I use very little makeup,” she said. “My son’s orders so I obey.”
Loren said she works well with her son on set, having previously worked with him on his short film “Human Voice.”
“He is a very confident director so that puts me at ease and we do share a bit of mind reading. I know what he expects of me before he says it,” she said.
Loren’s lengthy film career is littered with numerous awards and accolades. In 1962, she won an Oscar for her powerful role of Cesira in the Italian film “Two Women.”
In the movie, Cesira is a widowed mother who only wants to protect her devout young daughter. The duo travel from their home in Rome to the villages in the hillside in the hopes of escaping the constant bombs. Back in her childhood village, Ciociaria, Cesira gains the affections of a local with Communist leanings. After he is claimed by a group of Nazis toward the end of the war, Cesira and the rest of the residents of Ciociaria attempt to travel to Rome where the Allied forces have arrived. Cesira is a fiery woman who refuses to allow the horrors of war prevent her or her daughter from living a good and happy life, even when tragedy strikes.
Reflecting on her Oscar victory, Loren said she hadn’t expected to win the prestigious award so she didn’t attend the ceremony.
“It was a sweet victory. It’s very nice for your fellow actors and directors to notice your work,” she said.
She also said that playing Cesira in “Two Women” was one of her favorite characters to play. Loren was quick to note that her other favorite roles are “anything with Marcello Mastroianni because they were always fun roles with him.” Loren made 17 films with Mastroianni, including “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” “Marriage Italian Style” and “Sunflower.”
In 1991, the Academy gave her an honorary award for her contributions to cinema, which was presented to her by her former “Arabesque” co-star Gregory Peck.
When asked what advice she would offer to aspiring actors, Loren, a proponent of mystery, advised others to maintain an element of secrecy.
“You need a sense of mystery about you. Do not give everything in front of the camera. Let it come to you,” she said.
Loren herself kept to her own advice said very little when questioned about how she spends her time. “I rise early and always find time to spend with friends. No hobbies that I keep doing,” she said. “But I love to talk to my grandchildren when I can.”
However, audiences attending her Ridgefield talk are likely to gain a bit more insight into Loren. When asked what she wants her audience to take away from her dialogue, the star said, “I feel the audience’s love up there on the stage so I want them to know how much they mean to me. I hope they go out and see my films all over again.”
For more information about Loren’s appearance at the Ridgefield Playhouse, visit ridgefieldplayhouse.org.