Born on April 23, 1990 in London, England, Dev Patel was a featured player on the U.K. teen TV series Skins before launching to major fame via his lead role in the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, for which he received a BAFTA nod. Patel has gone on to star in an array of films that include The Last Airbender, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its sequel, The Man Who Knew Infinity and the biopic Lion, earning a Golden Globe nomination in 2016 for the latter project.
Background and Early Career
Dev Patel was born on April 23, 1990 in the Harrow section of London, England. The youngest of two children, his parents, of Gujarati Hindu background, migrated to the U.K. from Kenya. Noting her son’s perennially high energy levels, Patel’s mother eventually had him pursue acting. At 16, he took on a role in the teen-oriented series Skins, becoming a featured player in the show from 2007-08.
Award Nod for 'Slumdog'
Patel soon landed the part that would launch him into stardom, that of the lead character in 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, directed by Danny Boyle, whose daughter had brought Patel’s TV work to her father’s attention. The movie, set in Mumbai, India, told the story of Jamal, a young man who becomes a contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, later recounting the harrowing aspects of his life that lead him to his place on the show. Though not without controversy over the depiction of India and life in the slums, the film nonetheless was an international hit, earning more than $377 million and winning eight Academy Awards. Patel himself was nominated for a BAFTA as well.
More Prominent Roles
Patel would later relay that he had a difficult time finding roles after Slumdog, not being considered for Ang Lee’s masterful Life of Pi due to the perception that he was overexposed. He did land the role of Prince Zuko in M. Night Shyamalan’s 2010 big screen adaptation of the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. The film, though having some box office success, was critically panned. “I just remember being totally overwhelmed by the whole experience,” Patel said in a 2015 interview with The Guardian. “It’s hard promoting a film you didn’t enjoy and don’t fully believe in, and I felt bad. I felt sorry that I’d let these fans down, because I was a big fan of the cartoon it was based on growing up.”
Yet other parts followed, with Patel playing a property owner in the well-received Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, co-starring Judie Dench, Maggie Smith and Tom Wilkinson, with a sequel following in 2015. And from 2012-2014, Patel acted stateside, portraying digital editor Neal Sampat in the HBO drama The Newsroom.
Patel forged ahead with his career via parts in the erotically-charged About Cherry (2012), the comedy The Road Within (2014), the robot flick Chappie (2015) and a bio pic about mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan in The Man Who Knew Infinity, co-starring Jeremy Irons.
Buzz for 'Lion'
Autumn 2016 saw Patel return to the big screen in the international drama Lion. The film tells the real-life story of a Saroo Brierley, a young boy who becomes lost and separated from his family after a long train ride and, after surviving harrowing conditions in Calcutta, is eventually adopted by an Australian couple, played by Nicole Kidman and David Wenham. Patel portrays Brierley as an adult who, utilizing Google Earth, returns to the land of his birth to attempt to find his biological mom. Lion has earned a fair share of critical buzz and is positioned as an Oscar contender, with the film receiving four Golden Globe nominations, including a best actor nod for Patel.
Having begun training during childhood, Patel is a devotee of the martial arts, having earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He was also romantically linked to his Slumdog co-star Freida Pinto for a time, with the two splitting up in 2014.
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