Dev Patel burst onto the international film scene in a big way in 2008 with a stellar performance as a young man in Mumbai, India searching for love in the most unlikely way — on India’s version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,” in the Danny Boyle-directed, “Slumdog Millionaire.”
The British-born Dev first stepped into the spotlight in the popular BBC series, “Skins,” which is now showing on BBC America.
With award season in full swing, Dev and “Slumdog” have garnered a slew of accolades including a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the 2009 Screen Actors Guild awards and the film nabbed a Best Picture nomination at the Golden Globes.
Dev masterfully plays a young man growing in the slums of Mumbai struggling to survive in the face of unthinkable challenges and hardships — somewhere the Brit-born actor had never been prior to filming.
“I went on location scouting to help me get into the character. I went to the biggest slum in India. That was a real eye-opener, really. When I go there, I was so happy to be proved wrong [about what I had expected the slums to be]. It was an overwhelming sense of community. Everyone knew everyone, and they were all happy,” Dev told CinemaBlend.com “And like [director] Danny [Boyle] says, they’re proud of where they live. They said make sure you don’t make us look like we’re poor, because we’re happy. It was great to see that.”
Though Bollywood films were a part of his upbringing, Dev said he was surprised when the director told him he would actually be leading the dancing in the lavish sequence that closes the film.
“I thought it was a metaphor,” he revealed. “Then one day on set, Danny said, ‘Oh, by the way, tomorrow we’ve got a choreographer coming in for you.’ I was like, ‘What? You are not making me dance.’ Freida (his co-star) was all into it, because they grew up watching the stars and all that. But I’m the guy in the club who stands in the back, sipping my drink, nowhere near the dance floor. But after all of that practice, I never knew I could move my hips like that.”
Dancing was just one of the many challenges that Danny, who has helmed films such as “28 Days Later” and “Trainspotting,” threw in Dev’s direction.
”[Danny is] great. Coming from [British TV series] ‘Skins,’ I was still finding my feet as an actor,” he explained. “Working with Danny was really a godsend. He was a director you can really put all your confidence into. If he tells you something totally outrageous, you just learn to trust him, because he’s always thinking of the bigger picture.”
Dev’s trust of Danny’s direction has paid off. The 18-year-old actor has already won Best Breakthrough Performance – Male from the National Board of Review and Most Promising Newcomer from the British Independent Film Award.
The accolades could continue as Oscar nominations are just around the corner. But, regardless if actor goes home with a few golden statues following the end of Hollywood’s awards season or not, Dev has already won the hearts of audiences everywhere.