The Italian actress also put paid to rumours persisting for decades that married star Cary Grant secretly proposed to her during their passionate 1957 affair. The screen legend, 86, spoke to the Radio Times about her new film The Life Ahead, written and directed by her son Edoardo Ponti for Netflix. But she revealed how just before meeting and marrying Edoardo’s father – the film producer Carlo Ponti – she fell in love with British-born American star Grant.
The pair’s romance began on the set of The Pride and the Passion despite him being married to actress Betsy Drake.
Sophia explained: “With age, you find something inside of yourself that teaches you how to cope with problems and regrets.
“Little by little, you learn to cope. It’s very hard to say you have no regrets.
“I have everything I ever wanted, which is a wonderful family with beautiful children and beautiful grandchildren. The only thing I regret a little is that I never got married in a white dress. That was the dream of my life, which is still inside me.”
And when quizzed about five-times married Grant she admitted: “He didn’t propose to me. We were working together on my first American picture, The Pride and the Passion, along with Frank Sinatra.
“Cary was a very handsome man and a wonderful actor, but he didn’t propose.
“We had a very nice relationship, but I was 23 years old and Cary was much older than me.
“When you are 23, your ideas about love are not clear. You don’t know what you’re doing.
“I had a nice friendship with him. We wrote to each other and we would speak on the telephone.
“Until the end, we had a very, very long, wonderful and civilised friendship.
“Love is what everybody’s always looking for. I never could have lived without loving.”
The Hollywood icon admits her silver screen success surprised her. “I never thought I was going to have fame and success. I took very small steps,” she said.
“When I moved to Rome with my mother, we had no money and nothing to look forward to.
“I was an extra in many films and then, little by little, I started to find my way in front of a camera. It was the dream that came true.”
Now, after a break of more than a decade, she is returning to our screens. The Life Ahead tells the story of Holocaust survivor Madame Rosa who forges an unlikely bond with a 12-year-old Senegalese immigrant boy named Momo.
But Sophia says she still enjoys her “quiet life” and has been left terrified by the pandemic. She added: “I live in Geneva, my life is very quiet.
“I don’t go out much, I stay at home and read books. I do my own thing. Mamma mia, what is happening in the world is very scary.”