When Edoardo Ponti cast his movie “The Life Ahead,” he didn’t have to press his mom, Sophia Loren, to take the lead role. “I wanted with everything in my heart to be able to be the actress of this film,” she says. (Watch above.)
“I was completely taken by this great personage” she portrays: a tough ex-prostitute and Holocaust survivor who now runs an impromptu daycare for the abandoned kids of hookers. Reluctantly, she takes in one more vagabond – a defiant, 13-year-old immigrant from Senegal who’d previously tried to rob her on the street. Madame Rosa doesn’t really want him in her home and Momo doesn’t want to be there. Stand-off ensues and what happens thereafter is the central conflict and the throbbing heart of this expertly made, deeply felt film.
“It’s a story of two survivors who find each other and who complete each other,” Ponti says. In this video, Ponti and Loren discuss what it was like to work together creatively, even in a rain storm, often improvising. Plus they share their favorite scenes in the movie and what happened behind the scenes.
Ponti says how impressed he was by how courageously his mother “took on a role like this, at 85 years old, when she had nothing to prove.” But she approached her job with such “concentration, such commitment” that she now has significant Oscar buzz.
Looking back over her career, we chat about her historic Oscar victory for “Two Women” (1962), which marked the first time the award went for a foreign-language performance.
“I never thought I was going to win because it had never happened before,” she says.
When I ask Loren which of her movies she would recommend most to film aficionados, she cites “Marriage Italian-Style,” “A Special Day” and “nearly every movie I made with (director) Vittorio De Sica.”