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Sophia Loren's son says she was always 'extremely present' despite career

The film legend is starring in a new Netflix movie, directed by her son.
/ Source: TODAY

Balancing work and motherhood isn't easy, but Sophia Loren's son says the actor always found a way to make her children a priority, no matter how busy her career has been.

The film icon recently teamed up with her son Edoardo Ponti for her first movie project in a decade, "The Life Ahead," and the pair sat down with TODAY's Hoda Kotb to discuss their partnership and mother-son bond.

Loren, 86, began acting in the '50s and famously took a break nearly 20 years into her career to focus on her two children when they were younger. The decision was difficult to make, but the actor told Hoda that it's something she's never regretted.

"At a certain moment in life, you have to do what your body feels like doing. And you cannot be a machine. So when I started to have children, I really started to talk to myself and to say 'You have a family already, you have two children, you like to see them growing, you like to talk to them (about) what they want to do in life like a mother," she explained. "I was very happy to have done it."

2002 Toronto Film Festival - "Between Strangers" Press Conference
Edoardo Ponti directs his mother Sophia Loren in her latest role. This is the third time the mother-son duo has worked together. George Pimentel / WireImage

Ponti, who has worked with his mother on three films, was also appreciative that Loren put such a focus on family time, even when things got busy at work.

"She was always with us. Even if she might've felt inside, you know, 'I'm not spending enough time with you because I'm working, I'm off to a set.' But the truth is, when she came back home from that set, she was extremely present with us," he said.

Sophia Loren
Sophia Loren has always put her family first.Getty Images

When Ponti signed on to direct "The Life Ahead" for Netflix, he said he immediately thought of his mother for the role of the Madame Rosa, a Holocaust survivor who helps raise foster children.

"The voice of my mother immediately jumped to mind. You know, she has this combination of fragility but strength. She's funny. She's dramatic. She's irreverent. But she always loves," he said.

The screen legend also drew from a familiar maternal figure to inspire her portrayal of the character: her own mother.

"She was one of the most beautiful women in (her) little town. And she had two children and then everything that goes with it," she said.

Loren, who has played more than 100 film roles, said she still approaches each new movie like it's her first and is thrilled to still be acting.

"It feels good. It feels (like) a novelty. And this really keeps me kind of young," she said.