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Sophia Loren sets the record straight on Cary Grant affair

Cary Grant and Sophia Loren circa 1958.

Sophia Loren sets the record straight on Cary Grant affair

Sophia Loren, 86, makes a triumphant return to the screen in the Netflix movie 'The Life Ahead', directed by her son, Edoardo Ponti.

Sophia Loren sets the record straight on Cary Grant affair

She stars as a holocaust survivor living in Naples, Italy, who takes in street kids in the hopes of giving them a better life, and in doing so, forges an unlikely bond with a young boy from Senegal who robbed her.

The legendary Italian actress discusses her new role, reveals her biggest regret and sets the record straight on the rumour that Cary Grant proposed to her.

How would you describe your life nowadays living in Switzerland?

My life in Geneva is very quiet. I like to stay home, I like to look at my books, I do a little shopping, I like to walk in the park with my friends. I lead a very simple life, absolutely. Of course, nowadays you don’t know whether you can go out, where you can’t go out. It’s difficult. Mamma mia!

Are you stopped for selfies on your walks?

The selfie. (Laughs) It’s always, “Can I have a selfie? Just one please.” I say yes, but it’s sometimes annoying.

How much TV do you watch at home?

I watch the news, but that’s it. I find out what is happening in the world and it often scares me to death. The news is nothing to laugh at. What is happening in the world is very, very scary.

In what ways did the subject of this film resonate with you?

Well, during the war I was a little girl so it reminds me a little bit about the things that we went through in Naples. It was very difficult. But I felt happy to do such an important story. When my son proposed the role to me, I jumped at the opportunity. The story is funny, heartbreaking and poetic. It deals with the importance of being seen and heard, which feels very timely. I loved playing this character, Madame Rosa.

In the movie, Madame Rosa tries to sell her belongings to earn extra cash. Before you found fame, were you ever forced to do anything similar to survive?

Maybe my grandmother did when I was little, but I did not. I was eight years old when war came to Italy and it was a shocking time. There were bombings every night and the buildings were crumbling around us. Even though I was a little girl, I will never forget it. If you had to do something like that to give food to your family, you’d do it.

This movie is about relationships and how they can transform our lives. Your son directed you in this movie so presumably you have a great relationship with him. What’s your secret?

This is the secret, it’s something inside. It’s the heart. It’s the love that I have not only for him because I have another son also, let’s not forget, Carlo. Carlo and Edoardo are my family and I’m very happy for it. I would love to be with them all the time.

Have you grown wiser as you’ve gotten older?

I don’t think I’ve ever been wise. I follow my heart so sometimes that turns out well and sometimes it doesn’t (laughs).

What does fame and success mean to you?

I never thought I was going to have fame and success. I took very small steps. When I moved to Rome with my mother, we had no money and nothing to look forward to. I was an extra in many films. And then, little by little, I started to find my way in front of a camera. It was a dream that came true.

What’s your biggest regret?

It’s very hard to say you have no regrets. In life, you always go through so many experiences but I have always tried to live with no regrets. I think I’ve reached a peaceful life. I have everything I ever wanted, which is a wonderful family with beautiful children and beautiful grandchildren. The only thing I regret a little is that I never got married in a white dress. That was the dream of my life, which is still inside me.

Speaking of marriage… Why did you refuse Cary Grant when he proposed?

He didn’t propose to me. We were working together on my first American picture, The Pride and the Passion, along with Frank Sinatra. Cary Grant was a very handsome man. He was a wonderful actor, but he didn’t propose. But we had a very nice relationship, but I was 23 years old and Cary was much, much older than me. When you are 23, your ideas about love are not clear. You don’t know what you’re doing. It was my first American film and many things in my life were happening, but I had also met a man in Italy, Carlo [Ponti], that I fell in love with.

What has life taught you about love?

Love is the basis of our life in every way. What can you do in a life without love? It’s impossible. Love is what everybody’s always looking for. I never could have lived without loving.

Has your view of love changed over the years?

No, love is love with a capital L. It’s there in my heart all of the time.

Well, it’s never too late to walk down the aisle in that white dress…

No, no, no, no. I have children. I have grandchildren. No (laughs). Not now.

Cary Grant and Sophia Loren 1958.

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