12:28pm PT by Michael O'Connell
'Quantico's' Priyanka Chopra, High-Wattage Indian Star, Got TV Bug From Kevin Spacey
The highest-paid actress in India, with international cachet and nearly 11 million Twitter followers, Priyanka Chopra is one of the most formidable talents hitting TV this fall — not that many U.S. viewers are familiar with her. The Quantico star has a much lower profile in the states, but ABC is banking on changing that.
The network trotted out Chopra at the Television Critics Association press tour on Tuesday, flanked by only exec producers Mark Gordon and Joshua Safran, to serve as the face of the new ensemble drama — an FBI thriller that finds Chopra's character framed for a terrorist attack. She used her forum to talk about her slight career reboot, how she still plans on working in India and the unlikely TV evangelist who turned her on to the medium.
"I had a holding deal with ABC because [casting EVP] Keli Lee came to me in India while I was filming a movie," said Chopra, who praised ABC's reputation for diverse casting. "Of all the content, the best content in the world was in American Television, and I wanted to be part of that. And I wanted to be cast for the respect of being an actor, not for the color of my skin. Going to school in America, I never saw anyone with my color skin [on TV]."
Chopra added that she got her pick of scripts at ABC and immediately went for Quantico — "Any actress from any part of the world would want to play Alex Parrish. She's Jason Bourne in female form." — before also crediting her interest in TV work to Kevin Spacey.
"I was doing a master class with Kevin Spacey a couple of years ago," she said. "I asked him, 'What [work] did you find most fascinating?' And he said television, when I thought he would say theatre."
"I just don't know what Frank will do, It keeps you on your toes," she recalls him saying of his House of Cards character. Chopra was quick to mention that she is similarly in the dark about what goes on with her Quantico character. "They tell me nothing. Is that how TV works? That you don't know? It's frighteningly exciting as an actor."
There are, of course, drawbacks. Chopra got laughs from the crowd and her colleagues when she lamented the 15- and 16-hour days she's been shooting in New York. She also emphasized that she hoped the schedule wouldn't keep her from continuing to do films in India.
"I do want to be able to do my movies and the show," she said. "I've always been able to multitask."