Seven Roles That Make Dev Patel One of Our Favorite Young Actors
At the age of 28, British actor Dev Patel has already won a BAFTA, starred in a film that won Best Picture at the Oscars, and shared the screen with the great Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. As his latest movie The Wedding Guest opens in theaters Friday (March 8), here's a reminder of his career-making roles, with an honorable mention going to his playful partnership with Javier Bardem in last year's Zegna ads.
Patel's breakthrough came when he was cast in this seminal U.K. teen drama series, joining a fiercely talented original cast that also included a young Nicholas Hoult, Hannah Murray, and Kaya Scodelario. "Out of everyone, I was the youngest and the least experienced," Patel told the Daily Telegraph in 2008. "When I went on set for the first day of shooting I didn't really know what to do. Sometimes I watch myself and think, 'What was I doing?'" But his portrayal of Anwar Kharral, a British Muslim schoolboy who doesn't always take his religion as seriously as his parent think, definitely felt fresh and real, helping to propel Patel to even greater future success.
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Patel made his film debut in director Danny Boyle enormously successful romantic drama, which won eight Oscars including 'Best Picture' in 2009. He stars as Jamal Malik, a young man raised in poverty in Mumbai who wins the top prize on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, only to be accused of cheating. Boyle considered hundreds of male actors for the role, but cast Patel after his 17-year-old daughter suggested he watch Skins. It proved to be smart casting as Patel brings an endearing vulnerability to Malik as he defends his reputation and pursues Freida Pinto's Latika, and he deservedly earned BAFTA and SAG Award nominations for his performance.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)
Patel adds some youthful charm to this 2011 sleeper hit about a motley crew of British seniors who move to a retirement hotel in Jaipur, India. He plays the relatively inexperienced hotel manager Sonny, who grows up pretty fast when he has to contend with guests including Dame Maggie Smith's bigoted former housekeeper, Dame Judi Dench's inquisitive widow, and Bill Nighy and Dame Penelope Wilton's squabbling husband-and-wife duo. Patel reprises his role in the 2015 sequel, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, where Sonny and Smith's character Muriel form an unexpected and touching bond.
The Newsroom (2012-14)
Patel was a main cast member in Aaron Sorkin's ambitious drama series following life behind-the-scenes at a fictional TV news network. He plays Neal, the enthusiastic tech expert who helps Jeff Daniels' curmudgeonly anchor to modernize – sometimes reluctantly – by introducing new and millennial-friendly elements to the show. According to Neal's backstory, he got his break in TV news by covering the 2005 London Underground bombings with a camera phone. Patel, who was born and raised in the U.K. capital, tackles the role in a typically convincing and relatable way.
Patel won a BAFTA and received Oscar, SAG Award, and Golden Globe nominations for his emotive work in this Australian biographical film. He plays the grown-up Saroo Brierley, a successful businessman who had been accidentally separated from his family in India at the age of five. Some 25 years later, having been adopted and raised by an Australian couple (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham), he manages to track down his birth mother using Google Earth. It's a sad but heartwarming story brought to life with tender performances from Patel, Kidman, and child actor Sunny Pawar as the young Saroo.
The Man Who Knew Infinity (2016)
Patel also plays a real-life figure in this somewhat underrated film about an important academic friendship. He stars as Srinivasa Ramanujan, who overcame snobbery and a poor upbringing in Madras, India to make substantial contributions to math theory and find solutions to mathematical problems once considered unsolvable. Jeremy Irons co-stars as his Cambridge University mentor G.H. Hardy, and he and Patel make a very appealing screen duo.
The Wedding Guest (2019)
Patel gets to show a more menacing side in his latest film, an action thriller from revered British director Michael Winterbottom. He plays an enigmatic young man who travels from the U.K. to Pakistan so he can kidnap the bride-to-be from her wedding, a mission which takes him into New Delhi's seedy underworld. Time will tell whether The Wedding Guest becomes a Dev classic, but he certainly can't be faulted for trying to expand his range.
Which is your favorite Dev Patel role?