It looks like Freida Pinto’s future-glimpsing “Immortals” character has rubbed off on her.
“As the Oracle Priestess I know what's going to happen with it [at the box office], but I cannot tell you,” she assures PopcornBiz solemnly, before breaking into a laugh. “No – I don't want to be too big headed about it, but I see very good things happening for this film; very, very good things just because it's unique and one of a kind.”
The film casts Pinto as the prophesying oracle Phaedra in Ancient Greece, where her visions help steer the destiny of the hero Theseus (Henry Cavill) as he battles the onslaught of the villainous Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), with Zeus (Luke Evans) and his fellow Greek gods taking a hand in the battle here and there. The distinct, eye-popping visual style of director Tarsem Singh (“The Fall”) is melded to the all-out “300” style action, and no one was more unhappy than Pinto when she learned her character was more of a lover than a fighter.
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“That's not what I signed on to!” she laments. “Tarsem told me 'There will be a little bit of stunt training for you and you'll be fighting.' I was like, 'Yes! Finally people will get to see the real me.' I went on to set and Tarsem said that he changed the whole thing. When he met me, I don't know what it is, what energy I exuded, but he said, 'When I saw you I thought that you should be more calm and more Zen.' So I said, 'Basically, you're challenging me to be something that I'm not. But fine, let’s do it.' He completely changed it. He made her a lot more internalized and calmer on set.”
After making her big breakthrough starring as Latika in director Danny Boyle’s Oscar-winning 2008 film “Slumdog Millionaire,” Pinto has been finding her way into an increasing roster of big-budget Hollywood films. “'Slumdog' was more of an independent film but on a larger scale,” she says. “This film was a big-budget scale, on an enormously large scale. You can't compare the two. They're both on a large scale, but in their respective genres. Tarsem and Danny both have some very interesting tricks up their sleeves in terms of how they want to shoot a certain scene. They're very, very innovative and inventive with the ideas and camera angles and things like that. So I think in that sense, yeah, they do both have this cinematic madness. I love calling it that, because I feel that you have to be mad enough to make films like those two."
In her career choices, the Indian-born actress reveals, “I stay away from two things: stereotypes and cardboard cutouts. That's been my two no-no's. No stereotypes, in terms of I'm trying to put an image out there of an India that has not really been seen by the world. For some reason films and television – I wouldn't say ‘are to be blamed’ but are partly responsible, and I basically feel like if I'm in this position that I'm in it's time for me to change that, so stereotypes definitely are one thing that I'm staying away from. The other thing is cardboard cutouts. I feel that it's very sad that women aren't written very strongly in cinema. Sometimes I take on these roles and I read them as beautiful, strong women characters and then they go into the editing room and you don't have that much say in what happens there. So sometimes it backfires, but I guess that most of the time I wanted to do stronger women characters, even if she's not strong in the sense where she fights or basically says no. I feel that it's my responsibility to portray that an inner strength, always.”
For about a year Pinto found herself being asked about becoming a Bond Girl when false online reports pegged her as Daniel Craig’s next leading lady in his next James Bond outing, something that still amuses her.
“The Bond thing was an absolute rumor from beginning to end,” she says. “I do not even know how it started and who generated it and how it got that momentum, but no. My team or I had nothing to do with it, but it was a very flattering rumor.” But that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t want a shot at playing one of 007’s paramours one day. “I think my Bond Girl would be very strong – she would want to give Bond a very, very strong challenge there, that it wouldn't be that easy to just kind of get the Bond Girl into his bed and have that be the end of the storyline. It wouldn't be as simple as that, and I don't think that I would take up a character like that.”