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Quantico is finally back with the season 2 premiere! I added screen captures from tonight’s episode at the link below.


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Last night, ABC’s political thriller Quantico entered its second season, with Indian actor Priyanka Chopra resuming her role as Alex Parrish, an FBI operative framed for a terrorist attack. Alex is an ass-kicking heroine in every sense of the phrase: she is blisteringly smart, physically adroit, and committed to serving her country by all means possible. In playing Alex, Chopra herself is something of a powerhouse: She is the first Indian woman to lead a primetime network show in the U.S.—a fact she brushes off as another reality of the job, which in recent years has taken a turn toward the stratosphere. In India—where she still regularly works—she is a singer, and a fixture of Bollywood. Next year, she will be seen around the world in Seth Gordon’s highly anticipated Baywatch remake alongside Zac Efron and the Rock.

In Baywatch, Chopra will play Victoria, the film’s villain. Alex and Victoria could not be more different: While one is driven only to do good, the other is driven only by evil. This, Chopra tells us, is precisely why she sought the challenge: One role informs the other, and both become stronger.

We recently spoke with Chopra, just as she was wrapping a full day on set for Quantico (they still have many episodes left to film). Remarkably, she was able to leave the head of Alex and speak eloquently as herself.

MATT MULLEN: I understand you’ve been on set all day. How is production going?
PRIYANKA CHOPRA: It’s a lot of work; it’s a lot of long hours. We’re filming 22 episodes. So the body starts creaking after awhile.

MULLEN: Alex is also such a physical role. I imagine there’s a physical toll you experience.
CHOPRA: Yes. And also because I work weekends as well—because I have photo shoots or commercials that I do, or things in India. It’s usually a seven-day week for me. So physically it does get exhausting.

MULLEN: How do you balance it all?
CHOPRA: I’m a tough girl, I know what my job entails—it entails a lot more than standing in front of the camera. So I get it. I won’t deny the physicality of it is exhausting, and sometimes my body just can’t keep up. But it is ultimately about mind over matter. I learned very early in my career that when I don’t arrive on set, production will shut down, which means people won’t get paid; there’s that much responsibility. So I learned that whatever it is, you have to show up for the job, and power through.

MULLEN: Congrats on Season Two of Quantico premiering.
CHOPRA: Thanks, I’m excited.

MULLEN: How does it feel this time around? By that I mean, there wasn’t as much built-in hype around Season One. Now that there’s this huge fan base—does it ever feel nerve-wracking? Like you have to live up to people’s expectations?
CHOPRA: It feels better, actually, because there’s a certain loyalty that the show has, and a fan-base that the show has, and this year the show is better than last year, if I may say so myself. So I’m very confident about it. I think it will be a really good show, and I think people who have invested themselves into my character are going to be very happy with what they get to see.

MULLEN: You’re the first Indian woman to lead a primetime network show. And Alex is held up to be this feminist icon—does that ever feel like a lot of pressure?
CHOPRA: This role is exactly what I was looking for. I remember when I spoke to ABC, that’s exactly what I told them: I need to play these kind of parts. I don’t want to be a stereotype; I want a character that’s aspirational. To their credit, they made a great character on a great show. I seek out parts which are strong women. It’s not the quantity of a role; it’s the quality of a role. And I don’t ever want to do the same character twice. Variety excites me, which is a big reason why I wanted to play the villain in Baywatch, because I’m such a hero in Quantico, I needed to do something which was not similar to Alex.

MULLEN: I feel like Victoria in Baywatch is strong but in a different way.
CHOPRA: Yes, she is extremely feminine, very evil, extremely delectable, manipulative, patronizing. Which is not at all Alex. These are completely different people.

MULLEN: That must have been fun, to inhabit such a different character.
CHOPRA: It was so much fun. Seth Gordon, the director, is huge a collaborator, and same with Josh Safran, for that matter, on Quantico—I’ve been very fortunate that the people I’ve worked with have been such collaborators when it comes to my characters. It wasn’t ever difficult being Victoria, it was just creating. And the joy of creating is the truest joy. I don’t enjoy being told what to do, I’m not that kind of actor, I’m a thinking actor. I need to work with people who have the ability to do that. Both Seth and Josh really have a sense of belief in what I bring to the table. I’m very grateful that they have that in me.

MULLEN: How do you define a strong woman role? Is that’s something that’s been determined by the script, or do you give a character strength?
CHOPRA: Strength of character is already written. What we bring, as an actor, is an almost 3D-ness to it. It’s almost like a character is 2D, and then after I come in it becomes a 3D; it becomes alive. So what I bring into it is the essence of the character, and the soul of the character, how she walks and how she talks. But what she’s inherently doing needs to be written. And by strong I don’t mean ass-kicking, driving fast cars. Every character that I play, even if it’s a homemaker, there is an inherent, innate strength in her—you can find strength in every facet of a female personality. It doesn’t just come from the physical strength of a woman.

MULLEN: So in that same vein, how is Victoria strong in Baywatch?
CHOPRA: Victoria is strong because she has minions. She has people do her dirty work. She doesn’t look at how to get results, she just gets them. She doesn’t have morality. But also … it’s a comedy. [laughs]

MULLEN: Was that a fun movie to film?
CHOPRA: I was filming Quantico at the same time, so I had to go in and out. It was pretty insane. But everyone was amazing with me and my schedule. I’m so used to hopping in and out of character; even with Quantico I was filming Bajirao Mastani, so I was flying to India on the weekends. But it was so much fun to be able to create Victoria in Baywatch. It was awesome to bring that black evilness into their positive, beautiful world. [laughs]

SEASON TWO OF QUANTICO AIRS SUNDAY NIGHTS ON ABC. BAYWATCH COMES OUT IN MAY 2017.








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The American dream means different things to different people: equality, opportunity, freedom. But for a teenage Priyanka Chopra, it meant not having to wear a school uniform.

“That was the main reason I wanted to come here,” the actress (who was born in Jharkhand, India) tells Alexa, only half-jokingly. Her mother, Madhu, and father, Ashok — both doctors in the Indian army — agreed to send her to live with relatives in the US when she was 13. She hopped between Iowa, Massachusetts and Flushing, Queens, where her grades at Robert F. Kennedy High School were always impeccable.

But Chopra, who stars in the ABC series “Quantico,” also took advantage of the time away from her conservative parents to advance her non-academic interests.

“My locker was filled with shoes and clothes and makeup,” she recalls. “I didn’t need books so much because I was a smart kid. So I would leave for school wearing loose shirts, and change [into something more risqué] when I got to school. I used to turn into a little hottie!”

As Chopra, 34, breezes from elegant dress to elegant dress for our Alexa photo shoot in Chelsea, it’s clear she’s grown from high-school “hottie” to modern-day style icon, headlining Bollywood spectaculars and Hollywood red carpets.

Indeed, all that early fashion practice proved prescient. When she returned to India after high school, her mother secretly entered her in the Miss India World pageant in 2000 — without asking her. But the 18-year-old novice managed to beat the veteran contestants, winning the crown and going on to snag the entire Miss World title later that year.

That double win launched Chopra’s stellar Bollywood career, where she starred in dozens of films, earning critical praise as well as commercial success. Among her most prominent works was 2015’s epic romance “Bajirao Mastani,” which took in around $53 million, making it one of the most lucrative Bollywood movies of all time.

But it’s with the spy thriller “Quantico” (which is syndicated in more than 200 countries and territories) that her name has finally become a global brand. The show spotlights a group of FBI trainees with Chopra at the center, playing the wily and dynamic Alex Parrish. It’s one of the first mainstream American TV characters to be portrayed by an Indian-born actor, and Chopra was careful to insist that her character be depicted without offensive stereotypes.

“I still come across the conception of Bollywood films as full of singing, dancing jokers, and that we break out into random music sequences,” she says, laughing. “I even get people asking me how I speak such good English. I might do a mental eye-roll, but instead of getting angry, I take a breath and try to educate whoever wants to learn about where I come from. I used to have a friend at school who changed his name from Varun to Warren because he said people couldn’t pronounce it. I remember telling him, ‘Teach them!’

Soon there will be many more opportunities to soak up her lessons. Season 2 of “Quantico” kicks off on Sept. 25; in December, Chopra will serve as a guest judge on “Project Runway,” alongside Heidi Klum, Zac Posen and Nina Garcia.

“It was so hard for me to do the elimination part,” Chopra admits. “I really felt for these contestants. I’m a guest judge, so thankfully I don’t have to be mean! I’ve been through contests that have involved elimination. I won both [Miss India and Miss World], but the pressure and stress was so much that I still have some kind of PTSD from it. I’m not sure I could ever do it again.”

Chopra has also wrapped filming on next year’s “Baywatch” movie, in which she plays villain Victoria Leeds — a part originally intended for a male actor. “I think people in America thought of that show as cheesy, but I watched it all the time with my mom in India,” she recalls. “It was massive there. In my head, I still run in slow-motion like they do!”

These days, she splits her time between New York and India, where her mother and younger brother, a nightlife impresario, still live. Family is clearly important to Chopra: One of the few times her fizzing personality begins to crack is when she talks about her late father. “He was my biggest champion and my mentor,” she says. Chopra wears her love for Ashok on her sleeve — quite literally. The prominent tattoo on her right hand reads “Daddy’s lil girl.”

In 2005 he was diagnosed with cancer, and despite eight years of treatment, he passed away in 2013. Even now, Chopra frequently refers to him in the present tense. After correcting herself, her tone changes noticeably. “I kept asking myself, ‘What more could I have done — what did I miss? Could I have found a different treatment?’ It was the time in my life that I felt failure the most.

The idea that Chopra’s father is missing out on seeing his daughter achieve success all over the world is something that clearly saddens her. “It was never a plan of mine to go to a whole new country at the age of 33, and start a new career,” she adds. “Maybe he’s orchestrating it from somewhere. I’d like to believe that.”

It takes just a short while in her company to understand why much of the world is suddenly so enamored of Chopra. Her confidence is palpable, her voice and stride purposeful. But she has a playful side, too. She shifts seamlessly from thoughtfully answering questions to enthusiastically rapping along to the ’90s hip-hop blasting on set at the photo shoot. “That’s all I listened to when I was a kid,” she says. “I love Biggie, but I had a big crush on Tupac as a teenager. I thought he was a modern-day poet the voice of our generation.”

It’s not necessarily a surprise to witness her aptitude for music. In 2011, she signed a record deal with Interscope. But after a minor club hit with the Pitbull collaboration “Exotic” in 2013, her album ended up getting shelved, partly because of her other numerous projects. “Sometimes I still put it on when I’m drinking wine with my friends,” she says. “I’d love to do music again, but just don’t have the time to really focus on it — and you need that.

At the photo studio, she changes outfits with the cool efficiency of a quick-change artist. It’s an approach that reflects her overall fashion philosophy. “I like brands like Brandon Maxwell and Alexander Wang. They’re chic within themselves, they’re edgy, and they’re not a huge effort. I don’t like effort within my clothes. Most of the time, I’m a jeans-and-snazzy-heels kind of girl. It’s a quick tip for working girls who don’t have the time.”

If there’s a downside to being such a busy and successful star, it’s the heightened scrutiny on her personal life — something Chopra has always refused to discuss. “In India, they don’t directly ask you who you’re dating,” she explains. “But in America they’ll just say, ‘Who’s your boyfriend?’ ”

As any A-lister will tell you, keeping secrets in the age of cellphones and social media is nearly impossible — but Chopra has an answer for that, too. “In Season 2 of ‘Quantico,’ Alex is working for the CIA . . . so I know how to hide!”

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