Dev Patel is driven to succeed in Hollywood
Beneath a crystal chandelier, Dev Patel ponders budget car-buying. The 22-year-old actor, clad in a soft cotton V-neck tee, relaxed jeans and dirt-scuffed green sneakers, surveys two publicists, a photographer and a photographer's assistant at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons. “How much do you pay for car insurance? How much do you pay?”
Patel, who earned his driver's license in London last year, has cruised Los Angeles for months in a rented Toyota Corolla, while co-starring as blogger Neal Sampat in Aaron Sorkin's latest creation, “The Newsroom,” which ends its much-discussed first season on HBO on Aug. 26.
A suburban United Kingdom native with Indian roots, he's now settling into Hollywood, hoping to build a series of unexpectedly attention-grabbing roles into a serious career.
At age 18, after a breakout stint on the British television hit “Skins” (his mother saw a casting call and pushed him to audition), Patel was thrust into the international spotlight with his performance in “Slumdog Millionaire” (it's also where he met co-star Freida Pinto, his girlfriend). Earlier this year, he won praise, alongside British legends Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith and Judi Dench in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” an all-star, low-budget comedy that grossed more than $100 million worldwide.
Before resuming his supporting gig in Season 2 of “The Newsroom,” Patel is tackling his next task — “Not a fancy car. An Audi” — with intensity, perfectionism and humor. It's the same hyper-energy he employs on daily tasks, the logistics of adulthood and new roles.
Director John Madden, who cast Patel as an Indian hotel owner in “Marigold Hotel” (although he originally intended to find a middle-age man for the part), said the ever-grinning actor is “the center of every scene he's in.” Patel makes the audience truly care about his character, cheer him on. The rebellious teen in “Skins,” the precocious boy-hero in “Slumdog,” the blogger hunched over his laptop in “Newsroom” share the same magnetic quality, the Dev factor.
“I didn't know until I auditioned him what he was capable of,” Madden said. “I'd obviously seen him in ‘Slumdog Millionaire,' and I really, really liked him, but I had no idea that he was such a gifted comedian. Very natural, fantastic comic instinct — a very rare thing.”
Patel brought enormous energy to the set — always talking, laughing, joking, launching into karate kicks, requesting extra do-overs to nail a scene.
“There were times I would've been grateful to get it in three takes instead of eight, but something amazing happened in every one of those takes,” Madden said. “He's restless, always wants to be better, and he had the admiration of those acting with him. Veterans were dazzled by him.”
Patel recalls holding his breath, secretly terrified, while shooting the movie's close.
“I'm on this moped, fist-pumping and I had to drive by Judi,” he said. “I kept thinking, ‘Please don't crash into her. Please don't crash into her.' I'd be the most-hated man in England!”
Patel's character in “Newsroom” slowly develops throughout the first season and is expected to blossom beyond “a nerdy blogger type” in the next.
“In one part, there's a shot of Neal rolling around in bed with a girl and he has to stop and grab his phone when news breaks,” Patel said. “Of all the good-looking men on the show, (Sorkin) wanted me topless in the bed.”
Not that “Newsroom” is full of hunks, of course — but modesty and self-deprecating humor just add to Patel's mass appeal.
“I'm not intelligent enough for this show,” he joked, noting that he'd never blogged or tweeted or regularly read news before joining the cast.
Danielle Paquette is a writer for the Los Angeles Times
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Pederson had to go at Pitt
- Pederson’s 2nd tenure as the athletic director at Pitt comes to abrupt end
- Chryst returns home, named football coach at Wisconsin
- Demolition project at Oliver’s Pourhouse in Greensburg moves forward
- Philly DA says no affidavits claimed by AG Kane in bribery case existed
- Steelers, young and old, thirst for opportunity to reach the postseason
- Steelers notebook: Brown leads WRs in Pro Bowl voting, Bell 2nd at RB
- Many Pitt fans endorse move to oust Pederson as athletic director
- QB Smith is chief concern for Steelers’ defense
- Toast of the Town: Explore Lawrenceville’s many watering holes
- Penguins continue to thrive, despite spate of ailments