Born to a Mangalorean Catholic family in Mumbai, India, 27-year-old model and actress Freida Pinto rose to fame in 2008 with her screen debut as Latika in the massively successful Slumdog Millionaire, earning her a shared Screen Actors Guild Award and leading to spots on People magazine’s lists of 'Most Beautiful People# and #World’s Best Dressed Women' lists.
Since then, Freida has gone from strength to strength with star roles in films including Woody Allen’s You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger and the box-office smash hit Rise of the Planet of the Apes alongside Hollywood hunk James Franco.
Black Gold, at UK cinemas this Friday 24th February courtesy of Warner Bros, sees Freida in her latest role as Princess Leyla, sharing the screen with the likes of Antonio Banderas, Mark Strong, Tahar Rahim and Riz Ahmed in Jean-Jacques Annaud Middle Eastern epic. To celebrate its release, we look at some of Freida’s biggest on-screen successes.
- Slumdog Millionaire
Freida’s breakthrough role came in 2008, when she played Dev Patel’s love interest in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire.
As Latika, Freida won over the hearts of millions and became a household name known the world over following the huge success of the film.
Dev Patel plays Jamal Malik, an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai who, with the whole nation watching, is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.
But when the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating; how could a street kid know so much? Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life in the slum where he and his brother grew up, of their adventures together on the road, of vicious encounters with local gangs, and of Latika (Pinto), the girl he loved and lost.
The movie was seen by just about everyone and it went on to scoop Best Picture at the Oscars.
- You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
Next in her acting career came Woody Allen’s You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, a dramedy in which she starred alongside the likes of Anthony Hopkins, Josh Brolin, Naomi Watts and Antonio Banderas (with whom she would again share screen time in Black Gold).
In the flm she plays the character of Dia, a musicologist who becomes to focus Roy Channing’s attention. Roy (played by Brolin in the film) is a struggling writer (following the success of a first novel) who is in a troubled marriage with Sally (Naomi Watts).
While not a huge success for Allen, the film served to further launch Pinto’s career in Hollywood.
- Rise of the Planet of the Apes
One of 2011’s biggest box-office hits, Rise of the Planet of the Apes saw Freida become firmly established in the Hollywood landscape.
At the heart of the film’s story is Caesar (Andy Serkis), a chimpanzee who gains human-like intelligence and emotions from an experimental drug. Raised like a child by the drug's creator, Will Rodman (James Franco) and a primatologist Caroline Aranha (Freida Pinto), Caesar ultimately finds himself taken from the humans he loves and imprisoned in an ape sanctuary in San Bruno.
Widely rumoured to have a sequel in the works, Rise was a massive success both critically and in the box office, becoming the fourth highest August opening ever in the US and holding on to the top spot for two consecutive weeks.
Freida was no stranger to big epics by the time she got to Black Gold, having already worked with Tarsem Singh on Immortals alongside new Superman Henry Cavill and film legend Mickey Rourke.
In the film, inspired by ancient Greek mythology, Pinto plays Phaedra, the virgin oracle captured by Hyperion (Rourke), who intends to release the vanquished titans to spite the Gods who have failed to save his family.
Leading the fight against Hyperion is Theseus (Cavill), a mortal man trained by Zeus to stop Hyperion’s rampage across Greece. The filmed topped the US box office upon release in 2011.
- Black Gold
Set in the 1930s Arab states at the dawn of the oil boom, the story centres on a young Arab prince torn between allegiance to his conservative father Salmaah (played by Mark Strong) and modern, liberal father-in-law Nesib (Antonio Banderas).
While still boys, Auda (Tahar Rahim) and his brother Saleeh (Akin Gazin) were 'adopted' - or taken hostage- by Nesib as a guarantee that neither man could invade the other or lay claim to the area of no man’s land between them called the Yellow Belt.
The arrival of a Texan oilman who tells the Emir Nesib that his land is blessed with oil creates a new problem, as the precious oil is located in the Yellow Belt.
Freida plays Leyla, Nesib’s daughter, who marries Auda to effectively end the treaty and allow Nesib to seize control of the Yellow Belt. Helmed by director Jean Jacques-Annaud (Seven Years In Tibet, Enemy At The Gates), Black Gold blends a heart-gripping story with stunning visuals and epic battle scenes, filmed over 4 weeks in the Qatari and Tunisian deserts.
Black Gold arrives at UK cinemas this Friday 24th February.