Legendary Italian star Sophia Loren wouldn’t return to acting for just anyone. After 10 years away from movies, the Oscar winner will appear in The Life Ahead, directed by her son Edoardo Ponti. “He knows me so well,” she tells Closer Weekly, on newsstands now. “He knows every inch of my face, my heart, my soul.”

The Netflix film stars Sophia as Madame Rosa, a holocaust survivor living in the Italian coastal town of Bari, who forges a special friendship with Momo, a 12-year-old Senegalese immigrant boy. Sophia’s heartfelt portrayal of Rosa impressed her director. “She wants to put it all on the line to make a movie that is so deep, so challenging, both emotionally and physically,” said Edoardo, 47.

It’s not surprising that Sophia, 86, would return to acting for her son. For her, family is everything. Married to Carlo Ponti for 41 years until his death in 2007, Sophia, who lives in Geneva, has stayed in close contact with sons Carlo Jr. and Edoardo and their families during the global pandemic.

“My approach to life is very simple,” Sophia, who FaceTimes with her family every day, has said. “Enjoy all the good news that my children tell me about their lives. The beauty of my grandchildren fills me with joy although they are far away in California.”

Who Are Sophia Loren's Kids
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She hopes to visit with her family in the United States next month. In the meantime, the star “has a loyal band of longtime friends that see her and take good care of her,” an insider shares, adding that Sophia fills her days with gardening, reading and long walks. She’s especially looking forward
to The Life Ahead’s November release. “The energy and passion with which she approaches every scene,” said Edoardo, “is marvel to watch.”

— Lisa Chambers

For more on this story, pick up the latest issue of Closer magazine, on newsstands now.