At the age of just 18, Sophia Loren played her first starring role in Luigi Comencini's La Tratta Delle Bianche and instantly became the muse of the young Italian cinema. She shot to public fame in 1954, playing a provocative pizzaiola in the sketch film The Gold of Naples by Vittorio De Sica. This film marked the beginning of her collaboration with both Vittorio De Sica and Marcello Mastroianni, an actor with which she would go on to form a legendary cinema duo. These three film icons would ultimately work together on several films, including Too Bad She's Bad (1955) and The Miller's Wife (1955).
In 1955, she rose to international prominence in Mario Soldati's The River Girl.
In 1957, Stanley Kramer's The Pride andt Passion with Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra opened up the doors of Hollywood, where worked with some of the Tinseltown greats like Henry Hattaway, Carol Reed, Sidney Lumet and Michael Curtiz. She picked up the Coupe Volpi for the Best Actress at the Venice Mostra in 1958 for her role as Rose Bianco in Martin Ritt's The Black Orchid.
In 1961, Sophia Loren once again teamed up with Vittorio De Sica who directed her in Two Women alongside Jean-Paul Belmondo. The actress played a widow exposed to the violence of a troop of French soldiers. The role earned her an Oscar and the Best Actress prize at Cannes. Loren went on to star in five more films by the director including Marriage Italian Style in 1964, in which she again came face to face with her long-standing acting partner, Marcello Mastroianni. She returned to Cannes in 1966 as President of the Jury.
In 1977, again alongside Mastroianni, she starred in A Special Day by Ettore Scola and made a legendary appearance at the Festival de Cannes. The two actors played opposite each other for the last time in the 1994 film, Prêt-à-porter directed by Robert Altman.
This year she is to present the short film La Voce Umana.
The Actress Masterclass with Sophia Loren, hosted by journalist Danièle Heymann, will take place at 4.45 p.m. on Wednesday 21st May, Buñuel Theatre