If you watched the first two seasons of the UK series “Skins” and then watched Slumdog Millionaire you might not recognize that Anwar and Jamal are portrayed by the same actor. You’ve got to figure it takes a fairly astute person to play the hyper, sexually obsessed Anwar and then turn around and be so convincing as the sensitive and devoted hero of Slumdog Millionaire. Well that’s what Dev Patel is. For someone so young and with relatively little acting experience, he’s making his mark on the big and small screens and impressing directors and audiences alike.
Raised in the London Borough of Harrow, Patel was a kid with tons of energy. Gee, you’d never think it to look at him: all wiry and lanky. So his very intelligent mother put him into tae kwon do classes to channel all that energy. Get this, in 2004 at the AIMAA World Championships our guy here won a bronze. That’s right, he medaled! Turns out that dedication and those martial arts skills will come in handy later.
Throughout his school career Dev was involved in the dramatic arts. He garnered high marks and high praise from his teachers. Once again his very intelligent mother stepped in and suggested he go to open auditions for a new teen drama TV show called \”Skins\”. Much to his amazement he got the role of “Anwar” a fun-loving Pakistani Muslim. To hear his co-stars tell it, the character was tailor made for Patel. For the first-time professional actor, that had to be a source of comfort. A fan favorite, the series went on to win several BAFTA TV awards during its first two seasons.
This is all prologue to the lucky chance that would thrust Dev into the international spotlight. In the summer of 2007 Director Danny Boyle was frustrated. He was trying to cast the lead in his film Slumdog Millionaire about Jamal Malik, a kid from the slums of Mumbai who unbelievably wins the grand prize on the popular game show by recalling events in his own life to answer all the questions correctly. All the Indian actors Boyle had seen so far were muscular, hero types and not at all the normal, thoughtful guy he was looking for. As it turns out Boyle’s daughter was a big fan of “Skins” and recommended he check out the actor playing Anwar. The rest is history. 5 months of shooting in India and an obscene amount of awards, including 8 Oscars later Dev Patel is one hot commodity.
So how do you follow up such an auspicious start to your career? Well Dev thought long and hard about this very question. The parts Hollywood was offering him were mostly funny side-kick roles and not at all satisfying. He fully expected to find something in the independent film arena. Director M. Night Shyamalan had a better offer. Jesse McCartney, his original choice for Prince Zuko in the big-screen adaptation of \”Avatar: The Last Airbender\” had scheduling conflicts. Shyamalan approached Dev about playing the Fire Nation Prince in the big-budget summer blockbuster. At press time I was hoping to have seen the film so I could gush about how wonderful Dev was but ‘twas not to be, I’m afraid. We’ll have to suppose he was awesome until we each have an opportunity to confirm that ourselves.
If you visit Dev’s IMDB page you’ll see that he has no future projects listed. I can only surmises that he’s being choosy about his next project. When you’ve got the talent and support from home (remember his oh-so-intelligent mom?) to make the best choice for yourself, you won’t stay unemployed long.
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I know you’re looking at this guy and trying to place where you know him from. No, not high school, he’s not your best friend’s cousin from Peoria. This is going to blow your mind: Nicholas Hoult was the kid in 2002’s About A Boy. Oh yeah, I know! Milk does a body good, right? Well this young actor is turning heads on both side of the Atlantic and it’s not too difficult to see why.
Nicholas Hoult has been acting since he was 5. So at the ripe old age of 20 he’s got a sizable body of work behind him. After a myriad of one and two episode stints on television shows Nick landed some nice film roles. In Wah Wah (2005), Nick plays Ralph, (the fictionalization of writer/director Richard E. Grant) who narrates about his youth in Swaziland. Hoult got to star opposite some heavyweights in this one: Gabriel Byrne, Julie Walters and Emily Watson. That’s the first time I’d seen him, post-About a Boy and wow! It’s amazing what a few years will do to someone. Next up he had to perfect an American accent for Weather Man (2005) with Nick Cage and Michael Caine. (Again with the big-name actors.) Nick often talks about the pleasure he had working on those two films and the impact it made on his skills as an actor. But it was Nick’s work on the British hard hitting, sexy drama about teens “Skins” that garnered him some real attention.
2010 was a great year for Nicholas Hoult. First up was Tom Ford’s breathtaking directorial debut A Single Man, starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore. Nick has a pivotal role as Kenny, a university student who more or less brings Colin Firth’s distraught professor back to life. All that work Nick did on his American accent in Weather Man paid off. (Trivia – Single Man producer and About a Boy co-director, Chris Weitz recommended Nick for the role after the actor hired decided not to show up to set, the first day of production. That\’s loyalty for ya!) And I can’t even express in words how excited I was to see Nicholas in the manflesh-fest, blood and sandals epic Clash of the Titans when that’s in theaters that March. I’m sure that now that\’s released we will all be revisiting this profile again. This guy is worth a second and third look, trust me.
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