Although Chopra initially aspired to study aeronautical engineering, she accepted offers to join the Indian film industry, which came as a result of her pageant wins, making her Bollywood debut in The Hero: Love Story of a Spy (2003). She played the leading lady in the box-office hits Andaaz (2003) and Mujhse Shaadi Karogi (2004) and received critical acclaim for her breakout role in the 2004 thriller Aitraaz. In 2006, Chopra established herself as a leading actress of Indian cinema with starring roles in the top-grossing productions Krrish and Don. Following a brief setback, she was praised for playing a troubled model in the drama Fashion (2008), which won her the National Film Award for Best Actress. Chopra gained wider recognition for portraying a range of characters in the films Kaminey (2009), 7 Khoon Maaf (2011), Barfi! (2012), Mary Kom (2014), and Bajirao Mastani (2015), and featured in the commercially successful sequels Don 2 (2011) and Krrish 3 (2013). From 2015 to 2018, she starred as Alex Parrish in the ABC thriller series Quantico, becoming the first South Asian to headline an American network drama series. Chopra has since appeared in the Hollywood films Baywatch (2017) and A Kid Like Jake (2018).
As a philanthropist, Chopra has worked with UNICEF since 2006 and was appointed as the national and global UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Child Rights in 2010 and 2016, respectively. She promotes social causes such as environment, health and education, and women's rights, and is vocal about gender equality and feminism. As a recording artist, she has released three singles. She is also the founder of the production company Purple Pebble Pictures, which released the acclaimed Marathi comedy-drama Ventilator (2016). Despite maintaining privacy, Chopra's off-screen life is the subject of substantial media coverage. She is married to the American cNick Jonas.