Freida Pinto rises up in new "Planet of the Apes"

Thu Aug 4, 2011 1:50pm EDT
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By Iain Blair

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Indian actress Freida Pinto got her big break when director Danny Boyle cast the ex-model as the love interest in the 2008 Oscar-winning hit "Slumdog Millionaire." Now, she's hitting silver screens in her first big-budget, effects-driven Hollywood movie.

Since then, the 26-year-old has appeared on People magazine's "Most Beautiful People List," starred in smaller, art-house films for Woody Allen and Julian Schnabel, and is the current face of L'Oreal cosmetics.

In "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," which hits theaters on Friday, Pinto plays an expert in primate behavior opposite James Franco and a bunch of genetically enhanced chimps who prepare to take over the world.

The movie is a prequel of sorts to the popular "Planet of the Apes" movies of the 1960s and '70s, and it follows director Tim Burton's take on the series with 2001's "Planet of the Apes. Pinto sat down with Reuters to talk about making the film and why she is a Hollywood -- not Bollywood -- star.

Q: It's been over 40 years since the first "Apes" film with Charlton Heston. Where does this film fit into the story?

A: It's a modern-day origin story, set now. It's about how a scientific experiment with a potentially life-saving new drug goes terribly wrong and leads to an ape revolution. I think the fact that it deals with topics such as animal testing is very relevant and current. It's very different from the original.

Q: You play a primatologist. Did you do much research for the role?

A: A lot. Like most people I only knew what I'd been taught in school about chimps, and that's not enough. So I watched a ton of videos about Jane Goodall, who I'd love to meet. All her research was fascinating and so useful, especially in how she studied human behavior in comparison to chimp behavior.   Continued...