Suraj Sharma had never acted before he went along with his brother to an audition for Life Of Pi, and ended up being cast in the film himself.
The 19-year-old student reveals how much the role has changed his life and what he plans to do next
HOW DO YOU FEEL TO BE NOMINATED FOR THE EE BAFTA RISING STAR AWARD?
This is all new to me, so it’s a pretty big deal.
ARE YOU GOING TO THE BAFTAS AND THE OSCARS?
Yes, hopefully, that’s going to be another exciting thing. I just came from the Golden Globes. At least I know vaguely what to expect this time because with the Globes it was like - woah! There is a lot going on. It’s quite a frenzy. I met a lot of people. You meet so many people that you don’t expect ever to meet and you kind of idolise them. So when you’re in the same room as all those people - that is a very strange feeling. And people are perfectly normal about the whole situation, it’s funny.
IS IT TRUE YOU WENT TO THE AUDITION FOR LIFE OF PI BY ACCIDENT?
My brother was going for the audition and I just accompanied him and then auditioned. The whole thing was a very funny situation because I never really thought I was going to audition. I am a very lucky person. I don’t know how I got the role. I’ve been pushed into this journey, which I love now. I’ve found what I want to do in many ways. It’s opened my eyes so much. It’s a very wonderful thing for me. It genuinely feels like a miracle.
HOW DID YOU FIND LOSING WEIGHT FOR THE ROLE?
Initially I had to gain a lot of weight and then as we shot the movie I had to lose a lot. Losing weight is a really horrible thing. You have to workout very, very intensely and you’re barely eating. I was eating tuna and lettuce. For two or three months that is all I ate. We mimicked what Pi was eating, which was tuna and seaweed, so to mimic that, I was having tuna and lettuce.
DID YOU CELEBRATE WITH A BIG FEAST WHEN IT WAS OVER?
I couldn’t - my stomach had shrunk too much!
HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT TO YOU TO GO BACK TO UNIVERSITY AFTER MAKING THE FILM?
I’m studying philosophy. I really wanted to go to one college, and I’m going there now. It’s really important to me, and education in itself is important.
It’s kind of like this, if you want to tell stories, you need to have stories to tell, so you have to gather up as much information as possible before you go into the thing for real. So that’s what I’m trying to do.