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THE NAMESAKE

Two Lovers From Different Worlds
As Gogol Ganguli becomes a young man, he also falls in love – first with the sunny, wealthy, easy-going Maxine, who invites him to become a part of her quintessentially blue blood American family and then with Moushumi, a once-nerdy family acquaintance who turns into a brilliant, ravishing, Bengali beauty.

To play Maxine, the filmmakers searched for an actress who could emanate All- American charm and found that in Jacinda Barrett. Born in Australia, Barrett has quickly become a major Hollywood star, appearing in THE HUMAN STAIN with Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman, in BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON with Renee Zellwegger, in LADDER 49 with Joaquin Phoenix and most recently, in Wolfgang Peterson's POSEIDON.

Already a fan of Jhumpa Lahiri and Mira Nair, Jacinda was thrilled to be cast as Maxine. "I was head over heels,” she says. "I really loved the story because it has so many different colors and characters and experiences that make it unique.”

Jacinda immediately felt sympathy for Maxine, who enters Gogol's life at a time when he's attempting to forge his own identity by completely running away from his own family and his own culture – and finds a refuge in hers. "Maxine is your typical Upper East Side Bohemian artist and I think she really loves Gogol,” Jacinda observes. "But they both make big mistakes in the relationship. Gogol never lets Maxine into his real world and Maxine allows him to surrender himself and become a part of her family without becoming a part of his.”

She continues: "I think that what happens between Gogol and Maxine is something that everyone can relate to. Everyone knows that period of time when you are growing up and suddenly you start to feel closer to your parents even as you are moving away from them. It's a very powerful time in everyone's life. And that's what really moved me about this story: it's all about working out who you are and where you belong.”

Having already starred on the screen with a number of today's leading actors, Jacinda found her collaboration with Kal Penn exciting and refreshing. "He has a really unique, peaceful presence about him,” she notes. "He's so easy going and brings so little baggage, it was really nice to work with him.”

Playing the yang to Jacinda Barrett's yin is Zuleikha Robinson as the provocative Moushumi, who ultimately becomes Gogol's troublesome wife. Robinson, who has played such diverse roles as an Arabian princess in the epic HIDALGO and Al Pacino's daughter in THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, herself comes from a richly mixed heritage – which includes elements of Burmese, Indian, Iranian, Scottish and English backgrounds.

She found herself immediately compelled by the complex character of Moushumi. "I was drawn at first to Moushumi because she's the opposite of the characters I usually play, who have generally been much more innocent and unassuming. Moushumi is very strong, very confident, very out there with her desires and ambitions. She can be quite manipulative and is in all ways a very complicated woman,” Zuleikha comments. "I also could identify with her life story. She has Indian roots, was born in London and came to New York -- all just like me.”

Zuleikha also understood why Gogol would find Moushumi so irresistible. "She was this kind of unattractive kid who couldn't fit in with anyone but then she grew up, went to Paris, had lots of affairs and developed a real sense of herself. She sort of takes Gogol by storm, I think. And they're also drawn together because they both share the same experience. They both are Bengali but have grown up in America or London and, for the first time, after being with people outside their own culture, they are able to say, ‘I really understand this person in front of me, I get where they're coming from.'”

Yet despite all they share in common, Zuleikh

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