Not all of the characters in next month's Baywatch are out to save lives. Priyanka Chopra's Victoria Leeds is a villain attempting to foil Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson) and Matt Brody (Zac Efron). But Chopra's drug-smuggling character was originally written for a male actor — and she couldn't be happier about breaking the status quo.
"She has a point to prove," Chopra told EW of Victoria. "She's a woman in a man's world. She's not just a random woman with money, she's self-made. This is not just drugs and money for her, it's power. That's the cause."
Of course, there are plenty of ways for women to claim power that don't involve illegal activity. But it's refreshing to see such a badass female character onscreen, even if she is the so-called bad guy.
Baywatch director Seth Gordon also talked to EW about casting Chopra in the originally-male role. "As soon as I spoke to her, I knew she could do it," Gordon told EW of Chopra playing Leeds. "I really loved the idea of Dwayne going up against a female antagonist. Her approach is purely psychological. It's about outsmarting, it's about out-winning, it's about taking advantage of the male ego, all that stuff… She really was just a much more interesting person for him to go up against, because it wasn't going to be just brawn or grit."
Chopra also revealed that she loved the '90s TV show when she was growing up, telling EW that the infamous slow-mo running scenes actually inspired her own acting. "I loved the theme song, I loved how everybody was backlit, running in slow motion," Chopra told EW of the Baywatch TV show. "When I became a Hindi movie actress, I used to take inspiration and do all of my slow motion acting from Baywatch."
It sounds like Chopra's Baywatch character was just meant to be. Props to Gordon and the rest of the crew for being open to changing the role — there are enough male villains out there already.