Sasha Alexander and Edoardo Ponti in the Soho House West Hollywood screening room.
Ah, film school romance. It’s a natural, really. You start with the premise of young love, add some romantic lighting, design a breathtaking backdrop, cue the music, and let nature take its course. Add the progeny of one of Hollywood’s most beloved stars, Sophia Loren, to the equation, and the story gets a little more interesting. In the case of Edoardo Ponti (Loren’s youngest son with producer Carlo Ponti) and wife Sasha Alexander, you also have to include a gap of several years, because their love only began with innocent smiles and looks as friends at USC School of Cinematic Arts. Their romance didn’t really ignite until they met up again much later.
“I just remember he always had a great smile,” says Alexander, currently in her third season as Dr. Maura Isles on the TNT crime drama Rizzoli & Isles, the first half of which began airing this summer. “We were friends, but didn’t date in college,” she adds. “We met again a few years later, started dating, and married [within a short time].” Says Ponti, “What’s interesting about Sasha is that she was the opposite of a lot of people [at film school]. She was a director who wanted to be an actress, rather than an actor who wanted to be a director.” Ponti is expected to finish directing his first Italian-language feature by the fall. Reared in Paris and Geneva, he says his parents didn’t push him into the business. “I’ve always been deeply in love with human beings,” he says. “So I was going to be either a doctor or a storyteller. Those two professions deal the deepest with the human condition.”
For her part, Alexander was a regular on the series NCIS before taking on the costarring role as chief medical examiner opposite Angie Harmon in Rizzoli & Isles. “I get a kick out of playing her,” she says. “I get to explore my comedic abilities, and I get to wear fabulous clothes.”
Ponti and Alexander, both 39, worked together as writer/director and star, respectively, on last year’s romantic comedy Coming & Going. Their principal collaboration, however, involves a beautiful young son, Leonardo, 21 months, and daughter Lucia, 6, a recently renovated Westside house, and a marriage in which one covers for the other when it comes to balancing parenting with the demands of show business.
“The secret is serenity and organization,” Ponti says. “People remark when they walk into our home that it’s so peaceful and calm.” Says Alexander, “We can do nothing together; we can hang out, read—just be. We do a lot of that.”
As a family they also swim, dance, and eat the veal meatballs Mama Sophia used to make for Ponti growing up. It’s the kind of blissful existence film school students spend countless hours trying to imagine, except sometimes it actually comes true.
—PHOTOGRAPHY BY MELISSA VALLADARES; STYLING BY ESTEE STANLEY; DRESS, BALENCIAGA; SHOES, JEROME C. ROUSSEAU; RING, ROSEARK