Freida Pinto: ‘I Got Spoiled Rotten’ After ‘Slumdog Millionaire’

Freida Pinto and Omar R. Mangalji
Pinto and Mangalji arrive at the 2016 Vanity Fair Oscar Party. John Shearer/Getty Images

Freida Pinto knows Knight of Cups isn’t easy to digest. To appreciate writer-director Terrence Malick’s latest drama, in theaters nationwide March 11, “just let yourself go,” says Pinto, who plays a model named Helen. “It’s like meditation!” The Indian actress, 31, who is dating investment banker Omar Mangalji, talks with Us Weekly about her own modeling past, working with Christian Bale and her friendship with Mindy Kaling.

Us Weekly: You have plenty of experience with modeling and photo shoots. Did this role make you miss your early modeling days?

Freida Pinto: I didn’t really enjoy modeling in Bombay. I floated through it in the hopes that I would get my ticket to the next big thing. There was no real joy that I got out of it, to be really honest. … I can’t speak for models all over the world, but I definitely think a certain level of verbal abuse — almost every model goes through that.

Us: How was working with Christian Bale?

FP: He’s one of those actors who we all just look up to because he’s so dedicated and committed, and at the same time so humble and down to earth. He does not feel the need to proclaim his seniority in any way.

Christian Bale and Freida Pinto
Bale and Pinto in 'Knight of Cups.' Melinda Sue Gordon/Broad Green Pictures

Us: Helen initiates a “define the relationship” talk with Christian's character, Rick. Are you as bold in real life?

FP: I am very direct, to the point that I think I might make people uncomfortable! I do not know how not to be direct. I don’t think there’s time to waste.

Us: Has your L.A. experience been similar to Rick’s, floating through glamorous parties and fleeting encounters?

FP: I think there are some similarities with the yes-men around Rick’s life. The people who are afraid to just say, 'No, you are delusional.' … In the first six months of all the post–Slumdog Millionaire fame [in 2008], I got spoiled rotten. Being on every possible red carpet, presenting at every possible awards ceremony, winning awards. How do you not lose it? The success and adulation and glamour can go to your head. But I feel like I was really lucky in that sense that I was surrounded by the right people. And that makes a big difference.

Dev Patel and Freida Pinto
Dev Patel and Pinto in Slumdog Millionaire in 2008. Fox Searchlight Pictures

Us: You guest-starred on the season 4 premiere of The Mindy Project last year. Do you keep in touch with Mindy Kaling?

FP: Oh, god, she’s so amazing! Recently, I had a bad flu and saw that she Instagrammed some earache medicine. I texted her about it, and being the really sweet person that she is, the next day she checked in on me. She’s so lovely!

Mindy Kaling and Freida Pinto
Kaling and Pinto attend the eighth-annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in 2015. Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Us: What can you tell us about playing Mowgli’s adoptive mother in 2017's The Jungle Book: Origins?

FP: All I can tell you is knowing this is [directed by] Andy Serkis, just expect the unexpected. He has merged live action and motion capture. You actually see my face, and I’m not just voicing a character, which is fun. And if all the editing goes well, I might even be singing in the film! 

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