Priyanka Chopra Jonas has brought beauty and grace to her brand and now is pushing her boundaries by starring as Pinky Madam in writer and director Ramin Bahrani’s adaptation of “The White Tiger” from author Aravind Adiga. The Netflix movie features her finest moments as an actor yet, and is generating awards talk. Later in the year, she’ll be seen in “The Matrix 4,” as well as “Text for You” opposite “Outlander” star Sam Heughan.
What does “The White Tiger” say about where you are in your career, in regards to the artistic expression you’re seeking in cinema?
“The White Tiger” was something that I was craving. I’m very nascent in my work in the U.S.: I’ve just started working, with “Quantico,” and I’m filming a few movies right now. But I’m really looking for a trajectory where I have the ability to play various characters and genres and not be bogged down or put into a box or a stereotype of what I can do. That was my career in India. Pinky is a product of modern, urban India that is in touch with the world. It’s educated, understands the opportunity, rights and trajectories. That is what the movie is about.
What were some of the earliest films or TV shows that inspired you to get into this industry?
I didn’t even know I could be in movies. I loved “Full House,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Saved by the Bell.” I wanted to be Kelly Kapowski.
Is there a musical you would love to do?
I just watched “Les Misérables.” I would love to get into an artistic, deep kind of musical. As much as I would love to do something like “La La Land” as well, I like delving deep into things that can challenge me and things that make me nervous. And that definitely does. Plus, my husband’s been in [one] twice.
Would something like Elphaba in “Wicked” interest you?
If age is nothing but a number, yes. I believe I could play anything if given the opportunity. I would just put my head down, work really hard at it and come up with the best version I could create.
Is there a big directorial feature you’d like to undertake in your career?
I’ve always wanted to. Having learned everything that I know about the business and on set, I see the tremendous responsibility it is. You’re the captain of the ship, [you] steer every department and every department reports to you, and [it is] your singular vision. Filmmaking is definitely a director’s medium, and I feel like TV is a writer’s medium. So it’s the responsibility of it that I’m scared of more than anything. But I think, creatively I’m definitely ready. I want to do it. I’m at such a nascent place in my acting career that I want to be able to do a little work for a few years, establish myself as someone
who’s done great work, and then pivot into the technical side of it, but it’s definitely something I dream about.
In “The Matrix 4,” will we get to see you frozen in the air and kicking someone in the face?
[Laughs] No. I can’t say much, but she’s something you don’t expect. What I can say is I finished filming and it was the first movie I did after lockdown and I’ve never felt safer on a set.
Things you didn’t know about Priyanka Chopra Jonas:
Hometown: Jamshedpur (now Jharkhand), Bihar, India
If she hadn’t gotten into entertainment, she’d be: An engineer
Cooking versus kudos: She says her husband, Nick Jonas, is a better cook, but he says she’ll probably be the first Jonas to win an Oscar.
Early claim to fame: Winning Miss World in 2000