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Priyanka Chopra revels in role as ‘Baywatch’ villain

May 23, 2017 GMT

For some, being Miss World 2000 would be their career peak.

Not India’s Priyanka Chopra, the rare beauty contestant who became a global Bollywood star, then a crossover sensation in “Quantico,” and now Dwayne Johnson’s nemesis in Thursday’s “Baywatch” big-screen reboot.

“This was my 51st film but my first American one, so I wanted something a bit unpredictable,” Chopra, 34, said of playing drug dealing Victoria Leeds, a role originally scripted as a man.

“The writers gave Victoria a real reason to be evil. She’s a woman playing ball in a man’s world.

“There’s one scene where Zac (Efron) says, ‘You’re a (expletive)!’ and I say, ‘If I were a man you’d call me driven.’

“She’s here to build a legacy, and for everyone else, ‘You’re in my way.’ I just loved that. I wanted her to be truly condescending, very patronizing to everyone around her, especially the lifeguard.”

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When Victoria announces, “I’m not a James Bond villain — yet!” is that Chopra’s shout-out to board the 007 series?

“Yeah,” she said laughing, “it could be. More than that, I see Victoria as so narcissistic, no one matters except her and her path. Everyone is a means to an end.

“I think that’s why the Bond reference — because Bond villains are massive.”

Even before her title, Chopra was expanding her horizons. Her early teens were spent in the U.S., including a year in Newton.

“Newton North was my high school.

“It really shaped me, I guess, in a big way as a teenager. I was 15-16, I was bullied a lot there. When you’re that age, you’re trying to figure out who you are and where you stand. It showed me as I was bullied how to stand up for myself.

“I stood up to my bully and that made me stronger, to have to deal with that.”