British actor Dev Patel began showing signs of his talent as a performer at a young age, earning praise for his work in school plays when he was still in primary school. Born to Indian parents, Patel grew up in the London suburb of Harrow, where he focused on drama in school. At 16, he was studying for the higher education qualifying exams that make up a rigorous portion of British academic life when he scored a role on the hit English teen drama Skins. By the next year, he was cast in the leading role of Jamal Malik in Danny Boyle's landmark film Slumdog Millionaire, playing a kid from the slums of Mumbai who experiences a miraculous series of events despite his desperate surroundings. Patel instantly became a worldwide star, and his performance in the award-winning film was celebrated by audiences and critics alike. Soon, he was parlaying the success into new projects, signing on to play Zuko in The Last Airbender. He followed that up two years later with a turn in the all-star ensemble The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
Biography by Cammila Collar
- Performed in school plays as a child.
- Began training in Tae Kwon Do at age 10, and eventually attained a black belt.
- In high school, drama was his best subject, followed by English.
- Was brought to the attention of Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle by Boyle's teenage daughter, who showed her dad an episode of Patel's TV show Skins.
- To prepare for his role in Slumdog Millionaire, he spent three months in the slums of Mumbia, India, learning about daily life there and getting to know residents who were the same age as his character. He also trained with a choreographer for the film's conclusion.
- Told Entertainment Weekly that he credits his Slumdog Millionaire experience for making him an optimist and helping him mature.
- Got the role of Zuko in The Last Airbender by replacing Jesse McCartney, who was originally cast in the role.