Freida Pinto is just one of the many women who play love interest to Christian Bale in Terrence Malick's new, non-narrative drama "Knight of Cups."
The "Slumdog Millionaire" star talked to Moviefone about the improvisational nature of the film, why she hated her modeling days and what to expect from "Jungle Book: Origins." She also discusses bonding with Best Actress Brie Larson on Oscar night.
Moviefone: How much of "Knight of Cups" was improv versus scripted?
Freida Pinto: The entire film was improv. There was no script and, even when there was a script, we were asked to play with it or change the lines -- it just really depended on where we were in that present moment. It's a very free-flowing, Terry Malick style of filmmaking.
How does he direct? Do you do a lot of rehearsal?
He's more like a guide, if I can call him that. For us, discovering our character happened on set. Unlike other films, where you actually research and come prepared with who your character is and what their backstory is, there wasn't necessarily a beginning, middle, and end for us to play off of here. We kept discovering new things about each other's characters. In most cases, it was in the interaction between Rick (Christian Bale's character) and the ladies. We just kind of went with the flow [...] and in the final editing of it all, it really makes sense.
Does the final film match up with the film you thought you were making?
To be honest, we did not know what it was going to be while we were filming. There was no expectation, as such. But there was a curiosity, for sure, to figure out at some point what the film was going to be. We knew the basic premise of the film, and we knew that it was an L.A. odyssey. But I feel like, just how these characters affected the quest that Rick is on -- and what that quest was -- that is something that we only found out as we watched the final cut. I think the only person who knew where it was going is Christian Bale, if at all. None of us had any interaction with the other women in the film.
So did you get a chance to meet any of the other actresses during filming or promoting the movie?
Yes, here's what we did when we were filming. Terry put Teresa [Palmer] and I together at times and we would interact with each other not knowing... I knew that she was a stripper, but I had no idea in what way she was connected with Christian's character -- whether she was an old girlfriend or a new girlfriend. So, on set, we would just observe each other and there did not need to be any dialogue. In the final cut, none of the women are in any scenes together. But we discovered on set that we had so much in common in terms of experience.
So does Malick ever say "good job" while he's filming, or does he just let things happen?
He does say "good job" a lot, especially when he likes certain movements. He loves when we play with light, that's one of the things I've noticed that he loves. He loves when we move in a way that actually benefits the photographer.
He also loves it when we say certain things that completely baffle him. I said this thing in the film, which I'm not even sure why I said it, except maybe I was trying to understand Christian's character. I said, "I don't want to wreak havoc in men's lives anymore," and then he used it in the film. When you watch the film, you understand, Rick is on this quest and all these women are a reflection of Rick's personality and his inner struggle and they're all various aspects of it. I understand it's very unconventional and I'm trying to tell all the wonderful journalists what the answer is, but somehow, the answer lies in the experience.
Tell me about shooting that party scene with Antonio Banderas.
That was so funny. I had no idea he was in the scene. I was walking around and all of a sudden -- there's Antonio. I'm not sure whether he's playing his character or himself. Since the film is about Hollywood, it's very, very plausible that he's playing himself. I bump into him and it's so funny, because the smile I had was for real, because I was like, "What the hell are you doing here?"
It was actually a very interesting set-up. We called it a "dog party" because there were a lot of dogs there and people on all fours. It was kind of a crazy one. A little trippy. My character is new to Los Angeles and she's a transient character, she's always moving through these worlds and kind of in search for her own self. So when I was at that party, my job there was not to judge what I saw, but to observe and I enjoyed playing that a lot.
There was a photo of you partying with Brie Larson after she won her Oscar. Did you have a good time on Oscar night?
Oh my God, I watched the Oscars at home. I met Brie at the Oscar party and I'm talking to Andy Serkis, who is the most amazing person on Earth. They were talking like they were best friends and she said, "Congratulations, you're doing such amazing things." I'm not sure what she was talking about, but I think it was the film fund (We Do It Together) we just launched. We really got talking and I was so happy for her. She did this film called "Short Term 12" and it was amazing. She's just so inspirational. She's so real. There's not a fake bone in her body.
What can you tell me about "Jungle Book: Origins"?
I'm so excited for it. It's a long wait because it's 2017. Looks like I've just become used to waiting forever for my films to come out. "Knight of Cups" was three years, and "Jungle Book" is another two years. I'm just getting used to waiting. I think this is going to be a great marriage of motion capture and live-action. In the hands of Andy Serkis, you can only expect greatness. If you grew up on "Jungle Book," like I did, just the experience of filming it, I'm sure the final version will transport you back to the really magical film. And if all goes well, I will be singing in the film. A little something, not too much.
What's the film you're working on now?
It's a script written by Chris Bessounian and Tianna Langham called "Guns and Saris." I do not want to give you more information, because it's a work in progress. But it's taken a while, because it's an indie film. But it's a story that's unconventional that Hollywood has not seen before. And so it's a risk in many ways. But we're here to take risks and tell stories of strong and independent and courageous women. Hopefully with the Film Fund, and all these other conversations that are going on in Hollywood right now, stories like this will come out more and more.
"Knight of Cups" is in theaters now.