Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Sophia Loren --She meets a new Mastroianni and tells him of her world

Cleveland Press October 23, 1970

"You are Mastroianni? We have made eight movies together. Sit next to me."

So there we were -- Sophia Loren and I -- and six or seven other newspapermen, a couple of movie company press agents, a few servants and her husband, Carlo Ponti, whose marriage to Miss Loren should give renewed hope to short, fat men everywhere. Just a big, intimate gathering, darn it.

The setting for the interview was their New York apartment on the top floor of the Hampshire House overlooking Central Park.

(The double-parked cars outside the Hampshire are Rolls-Royces, Jaguars and Mercedes. The 1931 cornerstone proclaims the place as ". . . dedicated to yesterday's charm and tomorrow's convenience.")

THE INTERVIEW took place just before the famous robbery. The problems of being a celebrity in the Big City were already a part of her daily living as Miss Loren described how she spent her time with her two-year-old son, Carlo Ponti Jr. (nicknamed C.P. and pronounced Chipi).

"We go to Central Park at 8:30 in the morning, when there is no one there. We have two body guards." she explained. "I wouldn't go anywhere with my child where we might be mobbed."

MISS LOREN SPEAKS English easily, but with a hybrid accent. She had an Irish tutor, she explains. She uses the word "smashing" as an adjective. "I can say 'groovy' too," she says, rolling the "r" in groovy.

She speaks with her hands as well as her voice. And she speaks with her eyes (wonderful) -- widening them, laughing with them, sometimes narrowing them as she hesitates with an answer.

Happiness is many things for her. It is her marriage, her new role as a mother ("Now I am fulfilled") and it is being successful.

"I READ A LOT now, novels and plays. I like Tennessee Williams. I had no time to read as a child; there was a problem of getting something to eat.

"I like to be secure in my life. When I walk in the streets and people greet me -- that makes me secure."

She was submitting to interviews to promote her latest movie, "Sunflower" co-starring Marcello Mastroianni and produced by her husband. The New York critics were not kind to it. "I am sorry for them," she comments and the eyes narrow.

"They were not enthusiastic about 'Sound of Music' and 'Doctor Zhivago' either," she continued. The latter was produced by her husband, and Ponti made one of his few remarks -- "I never forget -- they were insulting about 'Zhivago'."

"SUNFLOWER" was made in Russia where the scenery was "smashing," and where the Sophia Loren movies on view are "Two Women," "Yesterday, Today and.Tomorrow" and "Marriage, Italian Style," and where the actress' fans ask for autographs and give her back fruit and flowers.

The Pontis will go back there in the spring, Miss Loren explained, to make a definitive version of Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina."

"We will make the whole book," she said. "And it will run eight or ten hours It is for television to run an hour a week."

Ponti explained that it has been sold to television in Europe already but there were no American commitments as yet.

BEFORE THEN the Pontis will be back in New York to make a movie there, an Italian production on location in the U.S. That was one reason for the permanent New York apartment, furnished in large part from their Roman home, the walls hung with 18th century paintings in heavy gold frames.

A candle was burning off to one side and Miss Loren said that was to kill the smell of cigarette smoke.

"I used to smoke but I cut it out when I was pregnant. The doctor said it was bad for the child. Yes, I smoked a lot, 25 to 30 cigarettes a day. Since then I have thought it would be silly to start again so I haven't smoked since.

"NO, I GAINED no weight," she added reaching for a plate of cheese and helping herself to a generous portion.

The baby is obviously in her thoughts all the time. Mention of him is frequent in her conversation. No, she never considered trying to have a part in "Zhivago," even though it was her husband's movie. It was a time when she wanted to have a child. There were two miscarriages and the third pregnancy was successful but it meant staying in bed 20 hours a day for the final six months.

The baby is in "Sunflower," appearing appropriately enough as Miss Loren's baby.

SHE TALKS ABOUT being choosy with parts now because she is a mother but there is a seeming ambivalence here for there are future roles already planned and she is eager as she talks about them.

Was there ever a role that she regretted turning down? The answer is a prompt no. Is there any she regretted having played? Another no, but after a slight pause.

What does she think of the newer people in movies? She replies that she has noticed many fine young actors mentions Jack Nicholson in "Easy Rider."

What about young actresses? She asks you to name one. How about Jane Fonda?

"Oh, is she a young actress?" and there is a mischievous look in those eyes. "No, no I don't mean it that way," she adds hastily.

What about interviews?

"I try not to expose myself. I am shy, really." "All actresses are shy" and there is a long pause," aren't they? Besides, I don't always give the same answers." The eyes are mischievous again.

What does she think of women's lib?

"I agree with it, for women who work. They should have the same pay. But at home a woman should be 100% the slave of her man."

Were there any actors she particularly wanted to make a movie with?

"I have made movies with the best of them," she parried, "Paul Newman, Gary Grant, Marcello Mastroianni, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Gregory Peck."

HOW MANY MOVIES had she made with Mastroianni someone else asked?

She turned to me and asked. "How many movies have we made together."

"We have made eight movies," I replied. Heck I can go along with a gag.

"We have made eight movies together," she replied to the reporter. The face was serious. The eyes were laughing.