Sophia Loren

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Sophia Loren is one of the most beautiful actresses Hollywood has ever seen, but even she faced early criticism about her looks.

In fact, in the early fifties, the 79-year-old star almost gave up on her acting dreams because movie execs didn't think she was "photogenic" enough, she revealed in a "masterclass" at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

"People thought my mouth was too big, they wanted me to make my nose shorter, to have straighter teeth," she said, per the Telegraph. "It would have been too hard. I said, well I'll go back home to Pozzuoli then, I don't want to change my face...In the film industry, if you're not photogenic it means you can't became an actress or actor."

Sophia Loren

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"But things have got better and better thanks to photographers and others, who know how to portray my face better on the screen," she said, adding, "I didn't change my face at all, they just got better at it."

Loren, who appears in her son's short film La voce umana credits director Vittorio De Sica for seeing something in her early on and helping to launch her career. "I said to him, every time I am auditioning, people never hire me because I'm shy. They think my mouth is too wide, nose too long, there's something wrong with my face," she recalled.  "He told me he didn't want me to audition, this conversation was just fine. I didn't know what to say to this wonderful man. I nearly fainted on the spot."

She went on to make The Gold of Naples with Di Sica in 1954, and with the film's success, she was launched into superstardom.

Still though, the actress still believes she has "never been beautiful, but as she pointed out, "Beauty is not important."

"You have to be interesting, someone who is different to other people," she said. "Otherwise you just turn up and look beautiful, and there's nothing more to you."

But Loren, who will celebrate a milestone birthday Sept. 20, can say she is "very proud of my 80 years."

"I'm starting to count the hours, count the seconds; everything is important when you reach my age," she added. "Every so often you have to explode back into life."

It certainly looks like she's full of life—and very much beautiful on the outside and on the inside, where it really counts.

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