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Freida Pinto

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Freida Pinto
Freida Pinto is sitting with her legs crossed and looking towards her left
Pinto in 2014
Born Freida Selena Pinto
(1984-10-18) 18 October 1984 (age 31)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Residence Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma mater University of Mumbai
Occupation Actress, model, presenter
Years active 2005–present
Religion Catholicism

Freida Selena Pinto (born 18 October 1984) is an Indian actress who has appeared mainly in American and British films. She was born and raised in Mumbai, India, and decided to become an actress at a young age. 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 through the 2008 British drama film Slumdog Millionaire, her first appearance in a film. Her performance was well received by critics, and she won the Breakthrough Performance Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. She was also nominated for various awards at the British Academy Film Awards, MTV Movie Awards, and Teen Choice Awards. Pinto has subsequently appeared in a number of British and American productions including You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010), Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Immortals (2011), Trishna (2011), and Desert Dancer (2014).

Although the Indian media has credited Pinto with breaking the stereotypical image of an Indian woman in foreign films, it criticised her for not acting in Indian films. In addition to her acting career, she engages in philanthropic activities and promotes humanitarian causes.

Early life and background[edit]

Pinto was born on 18 October 1984 in Bombay (now Mumbai),[1] into a family of Mangalorean Catholics hailing from the coastal city of Mangalore, southern India.[2][3][4] Her mother, Sylvia, was the principal of St. John's Universal School in Goregaon, Mumbai, and her father, Frederick, was a senior branch manager for the Bank of Baroda.[5] Her elder sister, Sharon, works for NDTV.[5] Pinto had a middle class upbringing in the suburb of Malad.[6][7] She first wanted to be an actress when she was five years old,[8][9] often dressing up and imitating television actors during her childhood.[8][10] 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".[11] Pinto attended the Carmel of St. Joseph School in Malad,[12] and then studied at St. Xavier's College, Mumbai, graduating in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Her major was in English literature, with minors in psychology and economics.[10][13] During her time at college, she participated in amateur theatre.[10]

Despite her interest in acting from an early age, Pinto was undecided on which career path to take until watching Monster (2003) while at college. She stated: "I guess it was when I watched Monster ... And then I pretty much knew. I had to find a way. I had to do something like that, something completely transformational."[14] In 2005, Pinto began a modeling career and joined Elite Model Management India,[1] with whom she worked for two and a half years.[10] 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.[15] Around the same time, Pinto also 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.[9] The show took her to countries all over the world, including Afghanistan, Fiji, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.[16] Her auditions for both Bollywood and Hollywood productions, including for the role of Bond girl Camille Montes in Marc Forster's Quantum of Solace (2008), were largely unsuccessful.[10][14][16] Pinto later claimed that it was 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."[17]

Acting career[edit]

Beginnings and breakthrough (2008–10)[edit]

Pinto with the crew of Slumdog Millionaire
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.[1][10] 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.[18] During the post-production phase, she attended an acting course at the Barry John Acting Studio in Mumbai.[5] 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".[10] Acclaimed particularly for its plot and soundtrack, Slumdog Millionaire emerged as a sleeper hit;[19][20] made on a budget of $15 million, the film grossed $377.9 million worldwide.[21] 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.[22] 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.[23][24] She was also nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the BAFTA Awards.[25] 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."[9]

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

While Slumdog Millionaire launched Pinto's career in Hollywood, her next two films were art house productions rather than blockbusters.[26][27] She played a supporting role in Woody Allen's comedy-drama You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010),[28] where she acted alongside Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Anupam Kher and Naomi Watts.[29] Premiering at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, the film received mixed reviews upon its release.[30][31] 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.[32] Before the film's production began in the Palestinian territories, Pinto prepared for the role by visiting several refugee camps in the area.[33] 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.[33] The film received largely negative reviews,[34][35] and Pinto's performance divided critics:[36] Geoffrey Macnab of The Independent wrote that "Miral ... is played very engagingly by Freida Pinto",[37] while Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian stated that "[Pinto] looks uneasy and miscast".[38]


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.[39] She played a primatologist[40] who is the love interest of the main character, played by James Franco.[32] To prepare for her role, she researched the career of English anthropologist Jane Goodall.[26] The film was commercially successful, grossing US$453 million worldwide.[41][42] Pinto's character received criticism for being too one-dimensional: Anthony Quinn of The Independent called it a "failure",[43] and Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter described the character as the most "boringly decorous tag-along girlfriend seen onscreen in years."[44] Pinto's second screen appearance of the year was playing the title character in Michael Winterbottom's Trishna, based on Thomas Hardy's novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles; the film was set in India.[45] It premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, and gained a mixed response from critics.[46][47] Philip French of The Guardian stated that Pinto "captivates" in the lead role,[48] while Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called her performance "touchingly beautiful".[49] 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".[50]

Pinto is smiling and looking towards her left.
Pinto at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012.

Pinto's third film role in 2011 was playing Princess Lailah in the poorly received independent film Day of the Falcon,[a][51] a period drama set in the 1930s Middle East, where she was cast alongside Antonio Banderas, Mark Strong and Liya Kebede.[52] 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".[53] Pinto's final screen appearance of the year was in the fantasy-action film Immortals, in which she played the oracle priestess Phaedra.[54] Despite receiving mixed-to-positive reviews from critics,[55] the film was a commercial success, grossing $226.9 million.[56]

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 the act;[57] The Times of India and Hindustan Times dismissed it as little more than "dirty dancing".[58][59] 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.[60] Pinto's first cinematic appearance in two years was in the biographical drama Desert Dancer (2014), about the life of Iranian choreographer Afshin Ghaffarian.[61] She played Elaheh, the love interest of the lead character played by Reece Ritchie.[62] The role required her to do dance training consisting of eight hours of rehearsals a day for 14 weeks.[63] It received largely negative reviews,[64][65] although Andy Webster of The New York Times noted that "Pinto, even with an unfocused and underwritten role, is captivating".[62]

Pinto's first film of 2015 was Terrence Malick's Knight of Cups, in which she played a supporting role.[66] The film was screened in the competition section at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival,[67][68] and received average to mixed reviews from critics.[69][70] The film is scheduled to be released in the United States in March 2016.[71] She was one of the narrators of Unity (2015), a documentary that explores the relationships between Earth's species.[72] 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."[73] As of October 2015, Pinto is working on Andy Serkis' Jungle Book: Origins, a live action adventure fantasy film based on Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book.[74]

Personal life[edit]

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,[75] and began dating her Slumdog Millionaire co-star Patel, who is six years her junior.[75] In 2012, Pinto stated that she does not want to act with Patel again as she feels that they would not be able to replicate the "chemistry" they had in their debut film.[76] After a six-year relationship, the couple separated amicably in December 2014.[77] After the success of Slumdog Millionaire, Pinto had "no fixed address", but instead split her time between Mumbai, London, and Los Angeles.[75][78][79] In an interview with USA Today in 2015, she stated that she lives in Los Angeles.[80]

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", aimed at providing education for underprivileged children.[81][82] Two years later, she was appointed as the global ambassador of Plan International's Because I am a Girl,[83] a campaign that promotes gender equality with the aim of lifting millions of girls out of poverty.[84] Following that, she 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 in 2013.[85] In July 2014, she participated at the "Girls' rights summit" in London, where she called for more progress toward the end of female genital mutilation and child marriage.[86] The following year, she spoke out against the Indian government's ban on India's Daughter, Leslee Udwin's documentary on the 2012 Delhi gang rape.[87] During its premier at the United States, she said the film needs to reach the public as it is not a "shame-India documentary".[88]

Media image[edit]

Freida Pinto is looking away from the camera.
Pinto (pictured in 2010) attending the 41st International Film Festival of India in Goa

After the release of Slumdog Millionaire, Pinto gained widespread popularity and was frequently included in beauty and fashion polls conducted by various magazines.[89][90] In 2009, she was featured in People magazine's annual lists—"World's Most Beautiful People" and "World's Best Dressed Women".[91][92] That year, she was also included in Vogue's list of the "top ten most stylish women".[93] In 2011, Pinto was included as the only Indian celebrity among the "50 Most Beautiful Women in Film", a list compiled by Los Angeles Times Magazine.[94] The following year, People named her one of the "Most Beautiful at Every Age".[95] She was featured in the "Top 99 Most Desirable Women" poll conducted by AskMen, consecutively from 2010 to 2012.[96][97][98]

In March 2009, The Daily Telegraph reported Pinto as the highest-paid Indian actress,[99] although she had not appeared in a Bollywood film to that point.[100] The same year, she became a spokesmodel for L'Oréal Paris.[101] Two years later, a controversy arose when she appeared in an advert promoting a L'Oréal product; it showed Pinto in what many perceived to be a lighter skin tone due to make-up or editing. The company, however, denied claims of retouching Pinto's picture.[102][103]

Pinto has been credited by the Indian media for having avoided being stereotyped as an Indian in Hollywood, as she often plays characters of other nationalities.[32][104] In a 2012 interview with Hindustan Times, she said she consciously avoids roles that depict stereotypes.[105] The Indian media has criticised her for not working in the Indian film industry.[106] In response, Pinto claimed that she was unable to find roles that suited her in Bollywood, while stating that she enjoyed watching Bollywood films and was keen to work in the industry in future.[107][108]


Upcoming series Denotes upcoming films
Year Title Director Role Notes
2008 Slumdog Millionaire Danny Boyle Latika Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Palm Springs International Film Festival – Breakthrough Performance Award
Nominated—Central Ohio Film Critics Association – Best Ensemble[109]
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role[110]
Nominated—Black Reel Awards of 2008 – Best Ensemble[110]
Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best Female Breakthrough Performance[110]
Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss (shared nomination with Dev Patel)[110]
Nominated—2009 Teen Choice Awards – Choice Movie Actress: Drama[111]
Nominated—2009 Teen Choice Awards – Choice Movie Fresh Face: Female[111]
Nominated—2009 Teen Choice Awards – Choice Movie: Liplock (shared nomination with Dev Patel)[111]
2010 You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger Woody Allen Dia
2010 Miral Julian Schnabel Miral
2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes Rupert Wyatt Caroline Aranha
2011 Trishna Michael Winterbottom Trishna
2011 Day of the Falcon[a] Jean-Jacques Annaud Princess Leyla
2011 Immortals Tarsem Singh Phaedra
2013 Girl Rising Richard E. Robbins Narrator Documentary
2014 Desert Dancer Richard Raymond Elaheh
2015 Knight of Cups Terrence Malick Helen
2015 Unity Shaun Monson Narrator Documentary
2015 Blunt Force Trauma Ken Sanzel Colt
2016 Yamasong: March of the Hollows Sam Koji Hale Unknown Voiceover
Animated film
2017 Jungle Book: Origins Andy Serkis Unknown Post-Production

Music video appearances[edit]

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


Year Show Role Channel
2006 Full Circle Host Zee International Asia Pacific[16]
2015 The Mindy Project Herself Hulu[113]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Awards Category Recipient Outcome Ref.
2009 BAFTA Awards Best Supporting Actress Slumdog Millionaire Nominated [114]
Central Ohio Film Critics Association Best Ensemble Nominated [115]
MTV Movie Awards Best Breakthrough Performance Nominated [116]
MTV Movie Awards Best Kiss (shared nomination with Dev Patel) Nominated [117]
Palm Springs International Film Festival Breakthrough Performance Award Won [118]
SAG Awards Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Won [119]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress: Drama Nominated [120]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Fresh Face Female Nominated [121]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Liplock (Shared with Dev Patel) Nominated [122]


  1. ^ a b Day of the Falcon is also known as Black Gold and Or noir.


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