Smallville star jumps to movies
chris atchhison/metro toronto
Kristin Kreuk continues to hear the same question from the many journalists who pass through her Toronto hotel room.
Why would the 24-year-old Vancouver-born actress — best known for her turn as Lana Lang on the hit Superman-as-teen program Smallville — choose the Canadian film Partition by director Vic Sarin (Love On The Side), about the partitioning of India and Pakistan following the Second World War for her first major feature?
Her reply is indicative of the challenges many young actresses face. “I read the script, the most moving script I’ve read, and in the position I’m in, I don’t get offered a lot of stuff that I care about,” she says.
Kreuk says that Smallville opened doors and gave her a higher profile entry into the world of professional acting.
While she doesn’t use the word typecast to describe her lot in Hollywood, she feels audiences and some in the industry may have inadvertently poured her into the teen drama mould.
Kreuk plays Naseem in the film, a Muslim woman who finds herself in unfriendly territory when members of her family are killed by Sikh extremists while en route to Pakistan during the partition of India in 1947.
Naseem is sheltered by, and eventually marries, Gian (Touch Of Pink’s Jimi Mistry), a Sikh ex-soldier who is forced to defend the relationship among the people of his town. But when Naseem goes in search of her remaining family members in Pakistan, Gian is faced with a life-changing dilemma.
Kreuk spent time with Muslim women to prepare for the role and researched a lot of women in the Islamic world. That exercise, she says, made her realize many of the misconceptions she harboured about the religion and other cultures in general, something she hopes Partition’s audiences will also acknowledge.
“In order to open my mind and my perspective and understand if there’s something there I don’t quite get, I have to ask questions and broaden my perspective and really see things for what they are,” she says. “I think this film really teaches the idea of compassionate love, tolerance and looking beyond our limitations as individuals.”
But British star Mistry, also playing against type as the stoic soldier, worries that in a post 9/11 world, cultures and communities are becoming even more fractious rather than seeking, and ultimately finding, common ground.
“People seem more segregated now than they ever were,” Mistry says. “People find a real safety in sticking to their own and that’s dangerous because if cultures and religions stay within themselves then it leaves them open to (extremism).”