The Italian actress is posing for photos on the stage at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, where she will be honoured Wednesday for her half-dozen decades in cinema. She is head-to-toe in red, from the highlights in her hair to her boots to her Armani suit. She seems to melt into the red-curtain backdrop on the stage.
But not completely. No amount of red can hide the smile, the voice, the incredible beauty.
I love red, because I think it is very nice. It says, ‘Naples.’ It’s the vibrant life of Neapolitan people. It’s the creative side of the Neapolitan people. It’s life.”
Of the award she remarked,
It means a lot to an actress who has been working … such a long time in this field. Even though I have an Oscar … when they called me from this building to invite me to another big honour, it is really very moving.”
Loren got her break in films as an extra in the 1951 MGM epic Quo Vadis and her breakthrough came in the Italian feature The Gold of Naples in 1954.
She got Hollywood recognition working with Naples director Vittorio De Sica. In his Two Women, Loren played a mother who is raped while protecting her daughter in wartime. The performance earned her the first major Oscar for a non-English-language performance.
The Academy once again honoured her in 1991, with an award for her contributions to world cinema. Of her work, Loren is most fond of Two Women and A Special Day.
During an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Loren spoke about some of her male colleagues.
‘Desire Under the Elms‘ (1958)
It was the first movie I made [in Hollywood]. It was a very dramatic movie with Burl Ives, a beautiful actor. I had a wonderful relationship with him. The drama was a little bit like what we had in Italy. It was a very strong drama and for me at that age I was overwhelmed by doing it, but still interested in trying.”
‘Lady L’ (1965)
Paul Newman was a very nice person, but shy and very much in love with his wife [Joanne Woodward], who was very pregnant and always on the set. I was always amazed that each time I looked at him, I would say to myself, ‘My God, I’m working with Paul Newman. God, look at his eyes, look at his mouth. He is so handsome.’ I don’t know when he was looking at me what he thought, but anyway, I was absolutely amazed.”
‘A Countess From Hong Kong’ (1967)
Photo credit: an incredible 76 year-old Sophia Loren by Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times
[Writer-director] Charlie Chaplin wanted me because he saw a picture I did with [Vittorio] De Sica, maybe it was ‘Gold of Naples,’ and he said ‘I want this girl.’ He could have given me the telephone book and I would have done it anyway. He was like a director of an orchestra with me. He would just be behind the camera in the emotional scenes telling me [via his hands] to give more or give less.Marlon Brando — I think he had his own problems, and if your problems interfere with the whole crew it’s going to be a little bit more difficult. For Charlie, it was a little bit difficult. It’s a pity [it wasn’t a hit]. Every time they screen the film now it gets very nice reviews because it’s a little jewel.”