Indian actor Freida Pinto got her big break in director Danny Boyle’s 2008 Oscar-winning hit, Slumdog Millionaire. Now, she is hitting the silver screens in her first big-budget, effects-driven Hollywood film titled Rise of the Planet of the Apes. In her upcoming film, Pinto plays an expert in primate behaviour opposite James Franco and a bunch of genetically enhanced apes who prepare to take over the world. The film is a prequel to the popular Planet of the Apes movies of the 1960’s and 70’s, and follows director Tim Burton’s take on the series.
It’s been over 40 years since the first Apes film with Charlton Heston came out. Where does this film fit into the story?
It’s a modern-day story, set in the present time. It’s about how a scientific experiment with a potentially life-saving, new drug goes terribly wrong and leads to an ape revolution. I think the fact that it deals with topics such as animal testing is very relevant and current. This version is very different from the 1960’s original.
This is quite a cautionary tale about human’s
tampering with nature, genetics and science. What did you learn from it?
It’s a film with a message. It made me realise how important it is to start thinking about very serious issues and not just be numb to them. It definitely made me wonder how far do you go in order to improve people’s lives and fight disease and at what cost?
How was it playing Phaedra in another big action film, Immortals?
I actually shot it before Apes although it’s not out until November this year. I’m the oracle priestess who can see and predict the future, although she doesn’t quite know how it’ll unfold. Although it’s set in ancient Greece, we shot it in Montreal, and it was an amazing experience. [Director] Tarsem Singh created a living set, with all these fantastic cliffs and shrines, so it wasn’t just all green screen.
You’re starring in all these big Hollywood epics. Will you ever act in a Bollywood film?
I’m trying to balance it all with smaller Indian films. I just did Trishna with director Michael Winterbottom. It is my second Indian film after Slumdog, so I feel I’ve done the Bollywood thing in a way.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2011.