They were golden days, the '50s. Vittorio De Sica and Carlo Ponti, my Carlo, were doing a project called "The Gold of Naples". De Sica said, "I need a Neapolitan girl." Carlo told him, "I know a girl. She's called Sofia Scicolone." I was given the role of the pizzaiola [pizza street vendor]. It was 1952. I was 17, and I was completely drunk with happiness.
For us Rome was an enchanting place, a city of trams and Vespas. I felt like this because I was very young, but there were people 40, 50 years old who felt like me too because of what they had gone through during the war. They felt they could afford maybe to start a new life.
De Sica was a sensitive man with great instincts and a great sense of humor. We spoke the same language almost the way as when you're married a long time and you look at your husband and, with just a glance or a gesture, you know. Then there was Anna Magnani. When De Sica was planning to film Moravia's new book "Two Women", he wanted Magnani to play the mother, and I could play the daughter. When De Sica went to see Magnani, she cocked that hip of hers and said, "No, I can't play with Sophia. What are we going to do together on the set? We are going to kill each other!" As De Sica was leaving, she cocked that hip again and threw up her chin with that beautifully free-spirited air we all knew so well. "Hah! Why don't you try to give Sophia the role of the mother?" Well, I did play that role. The mother became younger, and the daughter [played by Eleonora Brown] became a girl of 13. And I never played a role better!
"Two Women" came out of my memory of the war. The images of some of the horrors, of soldiers raping children and our knowing about it in our little town, were stuck in my mind. The images of my mother, when she used to go in the streets looking for food because we were so hungry, and she stopped people and said, "Give me some of that bread in your hand something!" The images came pouring out, flowing, flowing, sometimes with just one take, with this full emotion that could not be faked. It was there, and you could not fail to communicate it. If you see "Two Women", you don't have to know the whole story. The one scene of the rape in the church destroys you. I can hardly look at it. Each time I see that scene I cry.
Actress Sophia Loren has appeared in more than 80 films, among them "Two Women" (1961), for which she won an Academy Award
Next Finding a Middle Way