International superstar and Miss World 2000 winner Priyanka Chopra (ABC’s Quantico) makes her American film debut in Paramount Pictures’ Baywatch, in Philippine cinemas May 31, 2017.
The new Baywatch team (led by Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron) is put to the test when a dangerous new drug begins washing up on the shores of Emerald Bay. The timing coincides with the opening of The Huntley Club, a high end beach resort owned by the villainess Victoria Leeds (Chopra).
“I don’t think a lot of people understand what a ginormous hit Baywatch was in India,” Chopra says. “I’m still a huge fan, so when I read the script I was concerned about what they’d do to my favorite characters… but I couldn’t stop laughing. I’m thrilled to be playing the antagonist, because it’s a completely new character and I could be whatever I wanted to be.”
Initially, the film’s villain had been written for a man, but the filmmakers agreed Chopra’s casting could bring a new dynamic to the character.
“If you put a strong guy up against Dwayne Johnson in the film, you know that guy is going to lose,” director Seth Gordon reasons. “But Priyanka brings a certain savvy-ness and sophistication to Victoria that Mitch Buchannon hasn’t reckoned with in an opponent.”
Victoria proves to be Mitch’s opposite in every way. “Mitch is an earnest public servant; Victoria is patronizing, super rich and purely evil. He’s never out of uniform, she wears couture designer clothes and finds the beach disgusting. As an actor, to be able to play evil is always interesting. You’re able to do all the things that you can’t do in real life,” Chopra explains.
Chopra balanced a grueling shooting schedule, splitting time between Baywatch’s Florida and Georgia location shoots and Quantico’s New York set.
“Literally, every day of mine was committed to either Baywatch or Quantico,” Chopra remembers. “But I’m grateful it worked out, because I really wanted to do this and was a hundred percent sure it wouldn’t happen. I’m grateful they had enough confidence in me to be able to do both.”
As the owner of The Huntley Club, Leeds seeks to acquire and close Emerald Bay’s mom & pop shops to expand her operation, bringing her into direct conflict with Mitch and the Baywatch team.
“There’s only one Emerald Bay,” says Johnson. “It may just be a strip of sand, but it means everything to this team. They’ll do anything to protect it.”
In September 2015, Priyanka made her American TV acting debut as Alex Parrish on ABC’s hit drama Quantico, making history as the first Indian actor to star as the lead of a TV drama series.
Quantico is currently in its second season and has been licensed in 212 territories (excluding the U.S. and Canada), across 54 languages. In January 2016, Priyanka won a People’s Choice Award for her role in Quantico in the category of “Favorite Actress in a New Television Series,” again making history as the first Indian actress to win a People’s Choice Award; in April 2016 she was featured on the cover of TIME magazine’s coveted TIME 100 issue, as one of the Most Influential People in the world; and in 2017 she won her second People’s Choice Award for “Favorite Actress in a TV Drama.”
Baywatch is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.