Parminder Nagra biography
Five Feet Apart
Date of Birth: 1975
In 1998, Parminder Nagra was acting in a musical called Fourteen Songs, Two Weddings, and a Funeral in South London when director Gurinder Chadha attended a performance and first saw the up-and-coming actress. Chadha liked everything about Nagra -- especially her honest, innocent quality. Not long after, when Chadha was writing the screenplay for her next film, she wrote thelead role with Nagra in mind.
Besides her theater experience, Nagra, who was born in Leicestershire, England, had just a few television roles to her credit, including the British TV movie King Girl (1996) and a guest appearance on the series Casualty. When Chadra approached her to play the part of 18-year-old Jess in her film, the young actress agreed. Although not a soccer fan, she was amazed at first that someone wanted to make a film about it. Before the funding came together, Nagra landed several more television appearances, including the movie Donovan Quick (1999) starring Colin Firth, and a recurring role in the Granada television series A & E in 2000.
With no soccer experience, Nagra and her co-star Keira Knightley trained full time with a coach for three months in order to successfully play a soccer-obsessed teenager in Bend it Like Beckham (2002). They learned the Brazilian method of playing soccer called Futebol de Salao, and repeated the tricky moves over and over, even practising them at home each night. At one point, when Knightly sustained a concussion, the director suggested that they use doubles, but the girls flat out refused, not only for the authenticity of the film but because they realized how much they'd come to enjoy playing the sport.
When the film opened at number one in Britain and stayed there for several weeks, it was clear they had a hit on their hands. The film spread its wings across Europe, then opened in Australia, India and eventually the United States to rave reviews. Soon after, Nagra made her Hollywood debut in the feature Ella Enchanted (2004) opposite Anne Hathaway and Cary Elwes, then was asked to join the cast of the long-running NBC drama E.R. in April 2003.
For her role in Bend it Like Beckham , Nagra tied with Keira Knightley for the Best Actress award at the Bordeaux International Festival of Women in Cinema.