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My first encounter with Freida Pinto isn’t quite what I expected. After Red’s shoot, during which she hugs everyone, nibbles on almonds and twirls in Erdem and Valentino, Pinto, her publicist and I hop in a taxi to her central London hotel, where our interview is scheduled to take place. I’m hopeful for a pre-interview natter. Instead, Pinto announces she’s going to nap. I wonder if this is a canny tactic to avoid talking to a journalist more than is absolutely necessary. Within seconds, despite the rush-hour traffic and a brake-happy cab driver, she’s asleep. The driver, her publicist and I sit in hushed silence, for fear of waking her, for the next 25 minutes.
Both Pinto and the situation perk up, however, when we arrive. “I needed that,” smiles the actress, 32. “I was up until 3am working.” She seems so grateful for the shut-eye, I instantly forgive her for not indulging me with small talk. Publicist gone, we ensconce ourselves in the squishy Chesterfield sofas of the hotel’s drawing room. Pinto orders the baked apples with cinnamon that the kitchen prepare especially for her (“I don’t eat sugar, but I love a treat in the evening”) and sips still water. She’s casual – indigo Mother jeans, a Madewell Breton top, and a grey Lavish Alice coatigan) but properly, effulgently beautiful, all cut-glass cheekbones and Colgate-ad teeth. For the next hour she talks animatedly.
After playing sweet, shy Latika in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, the 2009 film which propelled Pinto to stardom, I was expecting to meet a wallflower, but Pinto is anything but. Where some A-Listers might shy away from talking politics, we dive straight in. Her latest project is Guerrilla, a six-part thriller set in 1970s London about the real-life Black Power Desk, a secretive counter-intelligence unit of the police that was dedicated to crushing black activism. Pinto plays Jas, a political protester turned radical militant. She wastes no time in comparing the plot to today’s politics. “There’s Brexit, Black Lives Matter, Syria… The show feels very ‘of the moment’,” she says.
As is evident on her Instagram page, Pinto went on the Women’s March in LA in January, rallying with a friend atop her shoulders. “What’s happening right now isn’t just political, it’s inhumane,” she explains. “It’s divisive. I have friends in the Muslim nations aff ected by the travel ban. This is not the US I came to. I was accepted after arriving from India and being in one film.”
Freida Pinto is featured inside the pages of People magazine’s annual “World’s Most Beautiful” issue, as she talks about speaking your mind and acting in Guerrilla. Here’s a few excerpts from her interview:
Freida Pinto isn’t one to keep her opinions to herself. “I’m not afraid to speak my mind, and that can get me into trouble,” admits the actress — she stars as ’70s radical Jas in the Showtime miniseries Guerrilla — in the current issue of PEOPLE. “For me [social and political activism] is the only thing that matters.”
The role of Jas is one that Pinto jumped at the opportunity to play. “As a female actor it is a lot harder to come across roles that explore every aspect of the character, not just her beauty,” says the women’s rights advocate. “But Jas and I are similar in our passion.”
Pinto considers herself “really blessed” to have a career in Hollywood but is also “superaware of the fickleness of it all and how fleeting” stardom can be. And despite any ups and downs she’s had through her career, the 32-year-old says she wouldn’t go back and do anything differently.
“I’m just glad that I did everything I had to do in my 20s and got everything out of my system between 18 and 25,” she says. “Now I know what I don’t want. I wouldn’t change anything. If you don’t make mistakes, you never learn.”
For more with Freida Pinto, get the World’s Most Beautiful-issue of People magazine – on newsstands now!
Can someone in Hollywood please find a funny role for Freida Pinto? Her sister, Sharon, is begging you.
When the 32-year-old actress told her sibling she’d signed on to make Showtime’s ’70s underground activist drama Guerrilla, Sharon had some concerns: “Do you get raped? Do you get killed? What happens?”
Understandable. Since Pinto hip-swiveled and thumka’d off the screen of 2009’s Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire and into fashion magazine pages everywhere, she’s appeared in a host of serious-issue films. Movies like Miral, directed by Julian Schnabel, about a Palestinian girl caught in the Arab-Israeli conflict; Desert Dancer, about a young Iranian who risks his life to work for his art; and the upcoming Love Sonia, a drug-trafficking drama in which Pinto stars as the owner of a brothel.
Now, in Guerrilla, written and produced by John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) and co-starring Idris Elba, Pinto plays a nurse radicalized by an underground cell in London in the early 1970s. Pinto describes the six-episode series as “my dream television gig”—i.e., “six heavy, intense, juicy, entertaining episodes of something that will get people talking.
But Pinto is also ready for an upbeat turn, and she promises she’s not as dark as some of her roles suggest. “I’m very bright on life in general,” she says, sipping a turmeric latte with almond milk, no sweetener, at Bardonna, a coffee-house in Larchmont, near her Los Angeles home. “But in performances, I like getting out of myself.” Plus Guerrilla, she says, has at least a few moments of lightness and levity. (Sharon apparently responded to this by saying Pinto had “a very f—ed-up sense of ‘light.’ ”)