September 17, 2010 / 6:12 PM / 8 years ago

Freida Pinto plays object of desire in "Stranger"

TORONTO (Reuters) - When it comes to acting roles, Freida Pinto has yet to meet her tall, dark stranger.

Indian actress Freida Pinto smiles during a news conference for the film "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" during the 35th Toronto International Film Festival September 12, 2010. REUTERS/Adrien Veczan

In Woody Allen’s wry comedy “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger”, the stranger means different things to different characters: handsome lover to one, possibly death to another.

Pinto, 25, at the Toronto International Film Festival to promote the movie, said her metaphorical stranger is not being able to live a fantasy such as working with Allen and co-star Josh Brolin.

“I was sick to my stomach knowing I had two amazing talents — Josh Brolin, Woody Allen — working with me,” said the Indian former model, who got her big break in Oscar-winning movie “Slumdog Millionaire”.

“I really spent my first days being nervous and being very petrified about which way I was going — Was I going to get fired? It was this immense amount of pressure and stress,” she told Reuters in an interview.

Due out in U.S. theaters on September 22, “Tall Dark Stranger” is the witty tale of a pair of couples whose marriages have gone askew, and reflects Allen’s ironic outlook on life and death.

Pinto plays mystery woman Dia, who becomes the muse to struggling novelist Roy, played by Brolin. Oscar-winning actor Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts and Antonio Banderas also star.

Once Pinto got over the initial jitters of joining an ensemble of acclaimed actors in her third film, she said her portrayal of Dia came very easily.

“Being the muse and being mysterious is not something I had to work on. It was something that needed to come naturally,” she said.

“It’s like being thrown into the deep end. You have to learn to swim or you drown. I think I learned to swim.”

That “sink or swim” idiom fits Pinto’s rapid rise in Hollywood since making her acting debut in director Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire

in 2008.

She also has a second movie — “Miral” — at the Toronto festival and three others due for release in 2011.

In director Julian Schnabel’s “Miral”, Pinto plays the role of a young Palestinian girl growing up in East Jerusalem.

“Miral” gleaned a lukewarm reception from critics, a potentially hurtful experience for a new actor, said Pinto.

“I could be destroyed by it, but it gave me more strength in a way,” she said.

“I was blessed that I had two people who believed in me — and two amazing people Julian and Woody — straight after the Danny Boyle film. That gives you confidence. My career path has not been bad so I have nothing to complain about.”

Editing by Jill Serjeant

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