Priyanka Chopra: “I loved that idea of my first feature in America being a negative character”

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

Priyanka Chopra not only has her incredible award-winning career in the Indian film industry, but she also stars in the American television show, Quantico, which has garnered the actress numerous awards and accolades as well. Priyanka has appeared in 50 films in India and for her 51st she is going Hollywood. Of course, being Priyanka she is not going the standard route: she is blazing a new path and her role as the antagonist in the film certainly proves that. We are talking about Baywatch, a modern version of the popular television show.  Directed by Seth Gordon and also starring Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Jon Bass, Kelly Rohrbach, and Ilfenesh Hadera, Baywatch is full of comedy, drama, action and more. The film crashes into theaters on Thursday May 25th, with an early preview on Wednesday in select cities in the US!

Baywatch follows devoted lifeguard Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) as he butts heads with a brash new recruit (Zac Efron). Together, they uncover a local criminal plot headed by Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra) that threatens the future of the Bay. Check out the trailer!

On Monday, I was able to have a quick, fun, full of laughter and also very real conversation with Priyanka Chopra. Though we did not get a lot of time, we did get to talk about the movie, creating her character, a certain thing about Zac Efron, working with Dwayne Johnson and we also covered so much more!  I loved talking with her and I think you will enjoy reading our great conversation!

First, congratulations on your fabulous success with Quantico, how does this all feel?

It feels wonderful. I am really happy we have come back for a third season. I am also really happy that it is going to be a shorter third season because now I can do movies as well. It was very difficult for me to have to choose between doing TV and movies. I am really happy it is all in a good place. We are in about 63 countries around the world. It feels great. As an artist, as an actor, that is eventually what you want, for people to appreciate and like your work.

What was it about Baywatch and your role that made you say this is the film I want to do?

First of all, what I loved about Baywatch is the fact that my role was written for a man. So that was enticing enough (laughs) first and foremost. If anyone knows me they know that I will jump at that. The second thing was that I just loved that idea of my first feature in America, it being a negative character, being the villain of the movie. I love the fact that I play a character, which is so different in the movie. It is just such a different part so that is the reason I decided that this should be my first film.

Also, it is a comedy. That is what is amazing about it.  I did not want to have like crazy pressure. This movie is a fun film. It is a silly movie. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. You will enjoy it!    

Your character Victoria Leeds, is as you said the antagonist in this film, so how did you find your character and become Victoria Leeds?

I had a lot of fun with my director Seth Gordon, who is really, really good at all that. He loves improvisation. In fact, that was one of the first things we really bonded on about Victoria’s character.  I wanted her to be a sort of like a James Bond villain and you know like the villains in the comedy movies, which are so weird in the place that they are in. Like Victoria doesn’t walk on the sand – she needs someone to put a stool out for her so that she can talk to people. That is what I am saying – it is so absurd that it was so much fun to think of things for her. I wanted to make sure she had really big hair that doesn’t move out of place, bold lipstick and bold couture outfits, which is a complete mismatch for the beach. I think that was really important and that is how we found her.   

I love the scene where she trips getting off her stool…

Oh such a drama queen she is… Oh please… (Laughs)

But it wasn’t bad to fall into The Rock’s arms I imagine…

Yes! And that was the point! Basically Victoria was trying to manipulate him so that she gets her way and she does! 

Tell us about working with Dwayne Johnson.

He is just so wonderful. He is one of the nicest guys I’ve met, actually.  He is very real. People see him as this big, mega superstar, but he’s actually is a real nice guy, a great father, a family man. You know it is just nice to see all of that for real, like in a real way. You know, so many people pretend, but he is really like that, which is so nice.     

You also worked with the cutie Zac Efron, tell us about being on set with him.

He was great. He was so funny.

You know all my friends kept asking me if his abs were real – so I had to do an inspection. I got a little closer to him. (Laughs) You know how sometimes when men talk to women they look at their chests… I was looking at Zac’s abs (laughs) while having a conversation with him. This was just to prove to my friends that his abs were real! So here you go world – Zac’s abs are real! (Laughs)

I saw Zac Efron on Live with Kelly and Ryan and I thought who would I rather be rescued by Dwayne Johnson or Zac Efron. So who would you want to be saved by if you were drowning in the ocean?

Well, when you watch the movie you will realize why I am saying this, but I would definitely say Dwayne because of the character that he plays; everyone would want to be rescued by him. Zac plays an Olympic swimmer who swims in pools and now he is thrown into the ocean so it takes him a little while to get there. So I would put my money on Dwayne.  

Do you get nervous before a new film starts and then before a film releases?

Yeah, I get nervous every day before I walk onto a set. Before my first shot, I am always nervous.  Then once I get into the groove of things I am all right. On a Friday, a week before release I get very, very nervous. Even though this is like my 51st film, I still get nervous!       

Is it different promoting films in the US compared to promoting films in India?

Maybe not as much now here because I have been a part of promoting Quantico and now with Baywatch so I know a lot of these people.  I have been on their shows before. I guess what was different for me, initially, was that people were curious to know things about me that I was used to people knowing. When I promote movies in India, I am used to it, when I go on TV shows and talk shows, that they know these things about me. The difference for me when I do promotion in America is the kind of things they want to know about me or about India that they might not know. That is the only difference really. Otherwise the madness is the same! (Laughs) The junkets are all crazy all over the world by the way!

I saw on Instagram that you recently were on an amazing trip for Unicef to Zimbabwe, tell us about that experience.

I have been a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador now for 15 years. 10 years as a National Ambassador in India, where we did similar things in India where we travelled around villages in India and basically we were bringing attention to rights for girls, their education and things that effect adolescent girls in India. That was very important to me.  That is the work I did with Unicef.  As their International Ambassador, this was my first trip. This was an extremely hard trip because I was basically addressing sexual violence against girls under 18. These are children, they are just kids!  It was an exceptionally hard trip. It really was heartbreaking. That is my job to remind people that there are parts of the world that we may not see every day but we can’t forget!  I guess that is my job!     

How do you do it? Shooting in NY for Quantico, shooting in Miami for Baywatch and then trips to India, how?

I am always on a plane! I don’t care about jet lag, because my body is immune to it now, I think. You know you have to treat the entire world like one country, I guess. That is how I treat it. The world is too small. I mean it takes me literally eight hours to get to London. It takes me 20 hours, which is less than a day, to get to India. I can finish one day’s work and come back in the weekend. I mean I have done that I shot Bajirao Mastani and Quantico together. You just have to get it out of your head that you are traveling across continents. You have to get on a plane like it is a bus.   

I had many more questions like ‘What other movie projects have you signed?’ and  ‘What does you fan support and they are from all over the world mean to you?’, but unfortunately she had to go tape a TV interview so we had to stop. With a thank you and lots of love, she signed off. Every minute that we did get to talk was amazing and I would like to thank her for the fabulous conversation!

Be sure to see Priyanka Chopra take on the Baywatch gang when it hits theaters on May 25th!

106 queries in 0.811 seconds.