Actress Freida Pinto plays the role of Phaedra in visionary director Tarsem Singh’s stylish and spectacular 3D action adventure IMMORTALS which opens on November 11. Trained as a priestess since birth, Phaedra is a gifted Oracle, capable of divining glimpses of the future, but unable to control or even interpret her visions.
IMMORTALS producer Mark Canton knew they’d found their Phaedra in Pinto, a young actress of Indian descent who had just made her film debut in the Academy Award-winning film Slumdog Millionaire. “It was time for her to step up and be a real movie star,” he says. “She’s phenomenal looking. She’s very dedicated and a real professional. She felt like the most natural part of the movie for us. There was no question that we wanted Freida Pinto.”
Producer Gianni Nunnari agrees, “There are certain actors or actresses that grow within the time of the shooting and that was Freida.”
Pinto’s striking beauty and otherworldly air won Tarsem Singh’s immediate approval. “Phaedra needed to be exotic compared to most of the people in her world,” says Singh. “People might expect that because it’s a Greek film, she would be Greek, but that’s not what I envisioned. When I met Freida I just said, she’s it.”
Pinto had been a fan of Singh’s since seeing his 2006 fantasy, The Fall. “I was impressed by the way it appealed to all the senses,” she says. “I thought this film had the potential to do the same. When I first met him, I did not know what to expect. He explained the reason behind doing this film, what he expected the film to look like, and what was expected of me and the other actors. It all sounded larger-than-life and fantastical. I really wanted to be part of it.”
Phaedra has lived all of her life in the company of her fellow priestesses and is reputed to have an especially strong gift for clairvoyance. But her visions, while accurate, are ambiguous. “It’s a very disturbing experience for her, because she doesn’t know exactly what will happen,” explains Pinto. “She first sees Theseus in a vision, but she doesn’t know who this person is. He is holding the emperor’s belt, which means he could be the savior. But she doesn’t completely trust him, because she doesn’t know what the vision really means. It’s only as things progress that she begins to believe he is going to save the people.”
For her first big studio film Pinto says she feels lucky to have had Singh to guide her. “Tarsem is one of the most encouraging directors you will ever meet,” she says. “Working on a big-budget project like this, time is literally money, but he was always patient and open to suggestions. When you work on a film like this, the emotions that you go through are so explosive. I’m just so excited, and that’s exactly what I want the audience to feel.”