'I had a midlife crisis at 28': Freida Pinto tells why her relationship with Slumdog Millionaire co-star Dev Patel hit the rocks
- Freida Pinto discusses how she hit an existential crisis at the age of 28
- Reveals why she and Slumdog Millionaire co-star Dev Patel split in 2014
- Discusses her new leading role in Sky’s six-part drama Guerrilla
Freida Pinto discusses how she hit an existential crisis at the age of 28
We’ve all heard of the midlife crisis, but what of the quarter-life one which is supposed to hit in the twenties or thirties?
Actress Freida Pinto, 32, thinks she might have had one. ‘For me it started at the age of 28, 29. Maybe it’s the body. Maybe it’s something about moving into womanhood from being a girl. You start asking, “What do I really want?”’
Do you ask yourself that even if you’re a millionaire actress with an A-list boyfriend? Yes, it seems – when Freida’s crisis hit she was enjoying Hollywood success and was in a steady relationship with her Slumdog Millionaire co-star Dev Patel.
‘There comes a point where you’ve got everything you want – career, love, family – but you’ve ignored yourself. Life hits you and you think, “What about me? What do I really want?”’
She’s explaining, in a roundabout way, why she and Dev split in December 2014, and why she’s currently single.
‘For the first time, I finally understand the concept of self-love and self-care,’ she says. ‘I’m single and happy, and busy. I haven’t been single for a long time. It’s like being born again.’
Not that she’s dismissing the relationship that was kindled when the pair – both unknowns – became overnight stars thanks to Slumdog, which was a box office smash in 2008.
‘You can be with someone and it can be really good for your growth,’ she says. ‘That’s what Dev was for me. The seven years I was with him were so impactful. But I ended up being single when I started thinking about these other things.’
They’re still great friends, she insists. ‘You can’t share such a monumental shift in life, then not be friends. That would be the saddest thing ever.’
Freida’s new-found independence has seen her take her first leading TV role in Sky’s six-part drama Guerrilla. It’s set in London in 1971 and based on the Black Power movement in Britain – a little-known chapter of our history that’s timely given its preoccupation with issues of race, identity and extremism.
Freida split with Slumdog Millionaire co-star Dev Patel in 2014 and is currently single. Pictured as their characters Jamal and Latika in the Oscar winning film
Though no longer together Freida says that she and Dev are still best friends. Pictured: The former couple with Alexa Chung on the front row of Burberry Prorsum Spring/ Summer 2010
‘It’s set in 1971 but it could be 2017,’ explains Freida. ‘It was a chapter I didn’t know anything about, and a lot of my British friends didn’t either. It’s a “what if” story. What if someone did get radicalised? What would be the fate of the revolutionaries?’
The explosive drama, loosely based on true events, focuses on young couple Jas and Marcus, played by Freida and Babou Ceesay. They’re activists who free a political prisoner and form an underground cell.
Their ultimate target is the ‘Black Power desk’, a real counter-intelligence unit that operated within Special Branch, but the show also poses questions about what would have happened if the Black Power movement had been armed.
Freida takes her first leading TV role in Sky’s six-part drama Guerrilla (pictured)
It’s the brainchild of John Ridley, who wrote 12 Years A Slave, and stars Idris Elba as Kent, a fellow activist with a more pacifist approach. Freida says, ‘The show is about how far we’ll go for our beliefs, and how the line between activism and radicalism can be crossed.’
She says this is the kind of ‘meaty role’ every actress wants, rather than the ‘pretty love interest’ they’re often offered. It’s a long way from the period immediately after Slumdog, when overnight stardom had drawbacks.
Freida talks of the ‘circus’ that builds up around Hollywood actors, and says she wasn’t ready for it. ‘The first two years were difficult. My friends said, “You’re becoming reclusive.” I was fearful. Will I have privacy any more? Will my every move be judged?’
She was terrified that she wouldn’t be allowed to make mistakes, and became paranoid.
Deciding how to follow Slumdog was tricky. Should she sign up for the first blockbuster going? The first few offers she received were stereotypical roles of the Indian girl who wants to find a husband or is stuck in an arranged marriage, showing that Hollywood still has issues about the type of part Asian actresses can play.
Freida saw the bigger picture. ‘I recognised that this opportunity had probably never happened before to someone from India. It would have been easy to take a big-budget film, but I was afraid of letting my whole culture down.’
She admits she didn’t always make the right decision and cites Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes from 2011. She played a scientist, Caroline, who turned out to be, after the editing process, just a pretty face. One US critic called Caroline a ‘boringly decorous tag-along girlfriend’.
She protests – as only beautiful people can – that she doesn’t get the fixation on looks. ‘I don’t think of myself the way people think of me. I don’t understand the concept of beautiful. If you cast the most stereo- typical beautiful person but they can’t act, what’s the point?’
Guerrilla begins on Thursday at 9pm on Sky Atlantic.
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