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Freida Pinto
Freida Pinto at an event for 'Youth For Change' in 2014
Pinto in 2014
Born
Freida Selena Pinto

(1984-10-18) 18 October 1984 (age 39)
Alma mater St. Xavier's College, Mumbai
Occupation Actress
Years active 2005–present
Spouse(s)
Cory Tran
(m. 2020)
Children 1

Freida Selena Pinto (born 18 October 1984) is an Indian actress who has appeared mainly in American and British films. Born and raised in Mumbai, Maharashtra, she resolved at a young age to become an actress. As a student at St. Xavier's College, Mumbai, she took part in amateur plays. After graduation, she briefly worked as a model and then as a television presenter.

Pinto rose to prominence with her film debut in the drama Slumdog Millionaire (2008) for which she was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She earned critical acclaim for her roles in Miral (2010), Trishna (2011), and Desert Dancer (2014). She also saw commercial success with the science fiction film Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), and the epic fantasy action film Immortals (2011). Pinto's other notable roles include You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010), Love Sonia (2018), Hillbilly Elegy (2020), and Mr. Malcolm's List (2022). She also starred in the Showtime miniseries Guerrilla (2017), and had a recurring role in the Hulu series The Path (2018).

Although the Indian press has credited Pinto with breaking the stereotypical image of an Indian woman in foreign films, she has been a lesser-known figure in Indian cinema and has rarely been featured in prominent productions in India. Along with her film career, she promotes humanitarian causes and is vocal about women's empowerment.

Early life and background

Pinto was born on 18 October 1984 in Mumbai, Maharashtra, Western India to Mangalorean Catholic parents from Mangalore, Karnataka, South India. Her mother, Sylvia Pinto, was the principal of St. John's Universal School in Goregaon, West Mumbai, and her father, Frederick Pinto, was a senior branch manager for the Bank of Baroda in Bandra, West Mumbai. Her elder sister, Sharon, works for NDTV.

Pinto had a middle class upbringing in the suburb of Malad, North Mumbai. She first wanted to be an actress when she was five years old, often dressing up and imitating television actors during her childhood. She later recalled being inspired by Sushmita Sen's victory in the 1994 Miss Universe competition, explaining that "the country was really proud of her, and I was like, one day, I want to do the same". Pinto attended the Carmel of St. Joseph School in Malad, North Mumbai and then studied at St. Xavier's College, Mumbai in Fort, South Mumbai. Her major was in English literature, with minors in psychology and economics. At college, she participated in amateur theatre, but declined acting and modeling assignments until her graduation in 2005.

Despite her interest in acting from an early age, Pinto was undecided on what career to take until watching Monster (2003) while at college. She stated: "I guess it was when I watched Monster... I pretty much knew. I had to find a way. I had to do something like that, something completely transformational." In 2005, Pinto began a modeling career and joined Elite Model Management India, with whom she worked for two and a half years. She was featured in several television and print advertisements for products such as Wrigley's Chewing Gum, Škoda, Vodafone India, Airtel, Visa, eBay, and De Beers.

Around the same time, Pinto began going to auditions for films and television shows. She was chosen to host Full Circle, an international travel show that aired on Zee International Asia Pacific between 2006 and 2008. The show took her to countries all over the world, including Afghanistan, Fiji, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. Her auditions for both Bollywood and Hollywood productions, including Shimit Amin's Indian Hindi-language sports film Chak De! India (2007), and for the role of Bond girl Camille Montes in Marc Forster's Quantum of Solace (2008), were largely unsuccessful. Pinto later claimed that it was a good learning experience, stating that she was "glad things happened the way they happened. I needed to be rejected, and I needed to learn that it's part of the game... I can have 100 rejections, but I'm sure there's going to be one particular thing that is almost destined for me to have."

Acting career

2008–2010: Beginnings and breakthrough

Slumdog Millionaire screening at Ryerson (cropped)
Pinto with the crew of Slumdog Millionaire during its screening at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival

In 2007, Pinto's modeling agency selected her and six other models to audition for the female lead in Danny Boyle's film Slumdog Millionaire (2008) after a request by its casting director. After undergoing six months of extensive auditions, Pinto won the role of Latika, the love interest of the main character Jamal, played by Dev Patel. During the post-production phase, she attended an acting course at the Barry John Acting Studio in Mumbai. Although the course taught her about the "technical aspects" of acting, she stated that "in terms of the actual experience, there's nothing like going out there and actually playing the part... So for me, my favorite acting school was the six months of auditioning with Danny Boyle". Acclaimed particularly for its plot and soundtrack, Slumdog Millionaire emerged as a sleeper hit; made on a budget of $15 million, the film grossed US$377.9 million worldwide. It was the most successful film at the 81st Academy Awards: it was nominated for ten awards, of which it won eight, including the award for Best Picture. Pinto won the Breakthrough Performance Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, along with other cast members from the film. She was also nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the BAFTA Awards. Pinto's performance in the film drew little attention from critics as her screen presence in the film was limited. The Telegraph (Calcutta) opined "it's difficult to form an opinion" on her character; its columnist Bharathi S. Pradhan noted "Slumdog Millionaire wasn't really a test of Freida's acting abilities."

Freida Pinto & Rula Jebreal
Pinto (left) and Rula Jebreal attend the screening of Miral at the 18th Annual Hamptons International Film Festival in October 2010

Following the success of Slumdog Millionaire, Pinto signed up for two art house productions. In Woody Allen's comedy-drama You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010), she acted alongside Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Anupam Kher, and Naomi Watts. She played a "mystery woman" who draws the attention of the character played by Brolin. Premiering at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, the film received mixed reviews upon its release. Pinto then starred in Julian Schnabel's Miral (2010), based on a semi-biographical novel by Rula Jebreal, playing an orphaned Palestinian woman who grew up in a refugee camp in Israel. Before the film's production began in the Palestinian territories, Pinto prepared for the role by visiting several refugee camps in the area. She stated that she could relate to her character's experiences because of her knowledge about her relatives' experiences during the partition of India in the 1940s. The film received largely negative reviews, and Pinto's performance divided critics: Geoffrey Macnab of The Independent wrote that "Miral ... is played very engagingly by Freida Pinto", while Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian stated that "[Pinto] looks uneasy and miscast".

2011–present

Pinto had four releases in 2011. The first was the science fiction film Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a reboot of the Planet of the Apes series. She played the role of Caroline Aranha, a primatologist who falls in love with the main character, played by James Franco. To prepare for her role, she researched the career of English anthropologist Jane Goodall. The film went on to gross US$481.8 million worldwide; it remains her highest-grossing film as of April 2016. Pinto's character received criticism for being too one-dimensional: Anthony Quinn of The Independent called it a "failure", and Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter described the character as the most "boringly decorous tag-along girlfriend seen onscreen in years." Pinto's second screen appearance of the year was playing the title character in Michael Winterbottom's Trishna. The film, based on Thomas Hardy's novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles, gave Pinto the role of a teenage Rajasthani peasant, who leaves her family to work for a British-born Indian hotelier, played by Riz Ahmed. It premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival and gained a mixed response from critics. Nishat Bari of India Today called Pinto's role her "most substantial" one to that point. Philip French of The Guardian stated that Pinto "captivates" in the lead role, while Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called her performance "touchingly beautiful". In contrast, Manohla Dargis of The New York Times wrote that Pinto is "one of [the film's] loveliest attractions, but she and her director haven't been able to give Trishna a pulse".

Freida Pinto Cannes 2012
Pinto at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival

Pinto's third film role in 2011 was playing Princess Lailah in the poorly received independent film Day of the Falcon, a period drama set in the 1930s Middle East, where she was cast alongside Antonio Banderas, Mark Strong and Liya Kebede. Despite overall negative reviews, Andy Webster of The New York Times described Pinto and Kebede as "refreshing" and praised their "independent presences amid the stiflingly male-dominated milieu". Pinto's final screen appearance of the year was in the fantasy-action film Immortals, in which she played the oracle priestess Phaedra. Despite receiving mixed-to-positive reviews from critics, the film grossed US$226.9 million worldwide. Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy remarked that Phaedra was "capably embodied" by Pinto.

After 2011, Pinto had no new film releases for two years. In 2013, she appeared in the music video for Bruno Mars' single "Gorilla". She was criticised by the Indian media for appearing in the video; The Times of India and Hindustan Times dismissed it as little more than "dirty dancing". In the same year, Pinto was also one of the narrators in the documentary film Girl Rising, produced for the campaign of the same name which promotes access to education for girls all over the world.

Pinto's first cinematic appearance in two years was in the biographical drama Desert Dancer (2014), which was about the life of Iranian choreographer Afshin Ghaffarian. ..... The role required her to do dance training consisting of eight hours of rehearsals a day for 14 weeks. She also attended a few sessions at rehabilitation centres in the United States to prepare for her role. It received largely negative reviews, although Andy Webster of The New York Times noted that "Pinto, even with an unfocused and underwritten role, is captivating".

Pinto's first film of 2015 was Terrence Malick's Knight of Cups, which featured an ensemble cast including Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, and Antonio Banderas. She played Helen, a model with whom Bale embarks on a "dalliance". She talked about acting without a script: "It is definitely a bit nerve-racking on the first day because you don't know where you are going to go. But once you figure that out, then it doesn't really matter. It is actually very relaxing. It is fun and liberating. It is an experience that I completely embrace". Premiering at the competition section of the 65th Berlin International Film Festival, the film received average to mixed reviews from critics. The film was released in the United States in March 2016. She was among the 100 narrators of Unity (2015), a documentary that explores the relationships between Earth's species. Her third release of that year was the Colombian action film Blunt Force Trauma, in which she starred opposite Ryan Kwanten and Mickey Rourke as a woman looking for her brother's murderer. John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter criticised the film, stating that it "takes itself much more seriously than viewers will." In 2015, Pinto worked on Andy Serkis' Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, a motion capture adventure fantasy film based on Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. She portrays Mowgli's adoptive mother, Messua, in the film.

In January 2021, it was announced that Pinto was to play the lead in a biopic of the SOE agent Noor Inayat Khan, based on the book Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan by Shrabani Basu. More recently, she and her Freebird Films company inked a first look TV deal at Entertainment One.

Charity work

Pinto has been actively involved with several humanitarian causes, and is vocal about the uplifting of women and underprivileged children. She has cited Angelina Jolie and Malala Yousafzai as "massive" inspirations in this regard. In 2010, Pinto joined Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf in support of their philanthropic organisation, the Agassi Foundation. She raised $75,000 for their annual fund raiser — "The 15th Grand Slam for Children"—which was aimed at providing education for underprivileged children. Two years later, she was appointed as the global ambassador of Plan International's Because I am a Girl, a campaign that promotes gender equality with the aim of lifting millions of girls out of poverty.

In 2013, Pinto appeared in a video clip for Gucci's "Chime for Change" campaign to raise funds and awareness of women's issues in terms of education, health, and justice.

..... During its premiere at the United States, she said the film needs to reach the public as it is not a "shame-India documentary". In a 2015 interview, she stated: "This film in no way is propagating violence in order to solve the problem. In fact, what we're saying is let's do this in the most civilized possible way ever".

In February 2016, Pinto announced that she would be a part of a nonprofit organisation called "We Do It Together", which provides financing for feature films, documentaries, and television shows that focus on women's empowerment.

Personal life

FreidaPintoDevPatel08TIFF
Pinto and Dev Patel at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival

Before beginning her film career, Pinto was engaged to Rohan Antao, who had been her publicist at one point. She ended the relationship in January 2009 and began dating her Slumdog Millionaire co-star Dev Patel. After a six-year relationship, the couple separated amicably in December 2014.

Pinto became engaged to photographer Cory Tran in November 2019, and they married in 2020 at the Honda Center. She gave birth to their son in November 2021.

After the success of Slumdog Millionaire, Pinto had split her time between Mumbai, London, and Los Angeles, and as of 2015 she lives in Los Angeles.

Pinto joined Rookie Wellness, a protein and nutritional supplement brand, as a partner and co-founder in 2020.

Filmography

Film

Key
Upcoming series Denotes upcoming films
Year Title Role Notes
2008 Slumdog Millionaire Latika
2010 You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger Dia
Miral Miral
2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes Caroline Aranha
Trishna Trishna
Day of the Falcon Princess Leyla
Immortals Phaedra
2013 Girl Rising Narrator Documentary
2014 Desert Dancer Elaheh
2015 Knight of Cups Helen
Unity Narrator Documentary
Blunt Force Trauma Colt
Black Knight Decoded Ahna Short film
2016 Two Bellmen Two Leila Patel Short film
Past Forward Woman #2 Short film
2017 Yamasong: March of the Hollows Geta Voiceover
Animated film
2018 Love Sonia Rashmi
Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle Messua
2019 Only Eva
2020 Love Wedding Repeat Amanda
Hillbilly Elegy Usha Vance
2021 Intrusion Meera
Needle in a Timestack Alex Leslie
2022 Mr. Malcolm's List Selina Dalton
2023 North Star

Television

Year Show Role Channel Note
2006 Full Circle Host Zee International Asia Pacific Talk Show
2015 India: Nature's Wonderland Herself BBC Two Nature documentary
2017 Guerrilla Jas Mitra Showtime / Sky Atlantic Lead role; miniseries
2018 The Path Vera Hulu Recurring role
2020–2022 Mira, Royal Detective Queen Shanti Disney Channel Voiceover
Main cast
2021 Spy Princess Noor Inayat Khan TBA Title role
TBA Surface Grace Apple TV+ Season 2

Music video appearances

Year Song Performer(s) Album
2013 "Gorilla" Bruno Mars Unorthodox Jukebox

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Outcome Ref.
2009 BAFTA Awards Best Supporting Actress Slumdog Millionaire Nominated
Black Reel Awards Best Ensemble Nominated
Central Ohio Film Critics Association Best Ensemble Nominated
MTV Movie Awards Best Breakthrough Performance Nominated
MTV Movie Awards Best Kiss (shared nomination with Dev Patel) Nominated
Palm Springs International Film Festival Breakthrough Performance Award Won
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Won
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress: Drama Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Fresh Face Female Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Liplock (Shared with Dev Patel) Nominated
2018 Indian Film Festival of Melbourne Best Supporting Actress Love Sonia Nominated
IFFM Diversity in Cinema Award N/A Won

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Freida Pinto para niños

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