Dev Patel Called Freida Pinto His Soulmate Before They Were Even Dating

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Dev Patel, Freida Pinto
Dev Patel, Freida Pinto

Kevin Mazur/WireImage Dev Patel, Freida Pinto

Who: Oscar-nominated actor Dev Patel, 31, and BAFTA-nominated actress Freida Pinto, 36.

How They Met: The actors met in late 2007 on the set of their hit film, Slumdog Millionaire.

They played love interests in the movie, but their five-and-a-half-year age difference caused some discomfort at first.

During a 2008 interview with Cinema Blend, Patel said Pinto had told him "she felt like a bit of a pedophile" after their first love scene audition, Patel being 17 at the time.

Years later, Pinto revealed that Patel had played a part in her eventual casting. The actress told Esquire that Patel was asked to choose among the actresses up for the role which one he'd like to "take on a date" — naturally, he chose Pinto.

TBT: Dev Patel and Freida Pinto
TBT: Dev Patel and Freida Pinto

Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images

"Dev is a complete goofball," Pinto told Teen Vogue of her co-star. "The first time we met, we didn't really talk much. Just a casual 'Hi, hello.' But [Danny Boyle, the director] wanted us to get along, so he made us go out around [Mumbai] together. I just love having fun, and we really bonded off set."

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Pinto was engaged to Rohan Antao through the shoot and Slumdog's release — it wasn't until early 2009 that she reportedly called things off. It was around this same time that rumors of an offscreen romance between her and Patel began to churn.

Why We Loved Them: Patel and Pinto were adamant about being friends — and nothing more. Despite the seeming evidence (intimate red carpet photos galore) and fan enthusiasm for the coupling, the actors continued to publicly deny they were dating.

Pinto went as far as to tell Access Hollywood's Nancy O'Dell that Patel was "not interested" in dating her. "We're not [dating]," Patel corroborated on the red carpet at the 2009 Oscars.

TBT: Dev Patel and Freida Pinto
TBT: Dev Patel and Freida Pinto

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images

But perhaps they should have advised friends and family to play along as well …

In February, the couple's co-star, Anil Kapoor, told Ryan Seacrest that Patel and Pinto shared a "magical chemistry" and that he foresaw it as "the beginning of something exciting."

That April, the Daily Mirror reported that Patel's mother, Anita, had confirmed her son's relationship (and that she was "really happy" for the new couple).

Pinto laughed about the situation with Kapoor later, telling The Daily Beast it was "awkward."

Patel told The Sun that he and Pinto kept the relationship under wraps because they feared it would be seen as a publicity stunt.

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"It was about the film at that time and we weren't going to come out as some kind of product," he said of the decision. "But there comes a point when you get more attention from 'are they aren't they?' So we figured that 'all right everyone knows now.'"

Still, rumors about the relationship's authenticity persisted. Years later, Patel set the record straight in an interview with The Guardian: "That would be a really long game for a horny 17-year-old to play." Touché.

TBT: Dev Patel and Freida Pinto
TBT: Dev Patel and Freida Pinto

Lester Cohen / Contributor

By September 2009, Patel and Pinto were done denying the relationship.

The couple attended a Burberry fashion show in London, where Pinto joked that her boyfriend "likes me in short dresses."

"No, Mummy. That's a lie!" Patel joked in response.

It was presumably at this same show that Mario Testino asked Patel if he was dating Pinto and when he confirmed, the photographer asked him why, adding, "She's so beautiful … But you're so, ugh, so normal-looking."

TBT: Dev Patel and Freida Pinto
TBT: Dev Patel and Freida Pinto

Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Burberry

When They Peaked: By virtue of going through a unique and intense experience together, Patel and Pinto established a bond — a strong one.

"I don't think anybody — not even family or friends — can understand what the two of us have been through," Pinto told Interview in 2011. Slumdog was the first feature film for both of them, and navigating the media proved to have a learning curve of its own.

"[Dev] made a statement unknowingly once and he said, 'Oh, she is like my soulmate,'" Pinto recounted. "We were not dating or anything back then, and it became this big hoopla. Like, 'Oh my god! How could he have said that? What does that mean?' But I guess he was right in a way; we are soulmates."

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TBT: Dev Patel and Freida Pinto
TBT: Dev Patel and Freida Pinto

Steve Granitz/WireImage

But it wasn't all "Jai Ho!" and soul connections … According to the Evening Standard, there was a point in Slumdog's press tour when Patel accidentally punched Pinto in the face (!). Pinto also revealed that Patel would "flirt with everybody" on set (before they were dating, of course). "He'd just go up to all the women and say, 'You're looking very sexy today.'"

The Breakup: In late 2014, Us Weekly reported that Patel and Pinto had split earlier that year, after nearly six years together.

The following February, Patel told The Guardian that he and Pinto remained "incredibly close."

"She's just a really generous, patient human being who has been one of the most impactful people on my life," he continued. "A lot of my motivation has come from her, from being with her and knowing her."

That spring, Pinto opened up about the breakup in an interview with USA Today.

"Everybody has their own little discoveries to make. Their own surprises, their own disappointments, and they're all part and parcel of life," she said. "There is no way one person can sit down and go, 'But why did this happen to me?' Or, 'It was all going well, what the hell happened?' Or, 'No, this just can't be,' the denial of it."

TBT: Dev Patel and Freida Pinto
TBT: Dev Patel and Freida Pinto

Alexandra Wyman/WireImage

Pinto insisted that she and Patel were "best friends," adding, "That's never going to change."

In 2017, Pinto shed more light on the split, telling Weekend that it came following a period of self-reflection.

"For me it started at the age of 28, 29. Maybe it's the body. Maybe it's something about moving into womanhood from being a girl. You start asking, 'What do I really want?'"

"You can be with someone and it can be really good for your growth," she went on. "That's what Dev was for me. The seven years I was with him were so impactful. But I ended up being single when I started thinking about these other things."

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"For the first time, I finally understand the concept of self-love and self-care," she continued. "I'm single and happy, and busy. I haven't been single for a long time. It's like being born again."

TBT: Dev Patel and Freida Pinto
TBT: Dev Patel and Freida Pinto

Pascal Le Segretain/amfAR11/Getty Images for amfAR

And, as it turns out, they really are friends — the supportive kind.

In March, when it was announced that Patel's directorial debut, Monkey Man, had been bought by Netflix, Pinto celebrated her ex's success. "How does one top this news!!" Pinto posted alongside a screengrab of Deadline's report on her Instagram Stories. "I am doing my happy dance! Jai Ho!!"

Where They Are Now:

Patel was last romantically linked to Australian actress Tilda Cobham-Hervey, whom he reportedly met on the set of Hotel Mumbai.

The actor's long-awaited A24 film The Green Knight opens in theaters July 30.

Pinto has been engaged to photographer Cory Tran since November 2019. The couple is expecting their first child together this fall.

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Next up for the mom-to-be is Needle in a Timestack with Orlando Bloom and Cynthia Erivo.

#TBT: Check in every Thursday as we throw it back to some of our favorite celebrity couples of all time.