Dev Patel was born on 23 April 1990 in Harrow, London, United Kingdom, is a British actor. He is best known for playing Jamal Malik in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire (2008), for which Patel won a number of awards, including a Critics’ Choice Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Patel is also known for his role as Anwar Kharral in the British teen drama series Skins.
Patel was born to Hindu Indian parents, both of whom were born in Nairobi, Kenya, where there is a significant Indian community. His parents both emigrated from Kenya separately in their teens, and only met in London. His mother, Anita, is a carer, and his father, Raj, an IT consultant. He was raised in the Hindu faith.
Patel grew up in Rayners Lane, Harrow, and attended Longfield Middle School. He had his first acting role as Sir Andrew Aguecheek in the school’s production of Twelfth Night. Patel was given the Best Actor award for his performance. He later attended Whitmore High School, receiving an A* in GCSE Drama, for his “self-penned portrayal of a child in the Beslan school siege”.
His drama teacher Niamh Wright has stated: “Dev was a gifted student who quickly impressed me with his innate ability to communicate a wide variety of characters imaginatively and creatively. He was awarded full marks for his GCSE performance to a live audience and the visiting examiner was moved to tears by his honest portrayal”. He completed his AS Levels in PE, Biology, History and Drama in 2007, while he was working in Skins. He has been dating his Slumdog Millionaire co-star Freida Pinto since 2009.
Patel said that as a kid, he was “bloody energetic” and used to get in trouble at school because of it. His mottel started training at the Rayners Lane Academy of Taekwon-do in 2000. He competed regularly in both national and international championships, including the 2004 AIMAA (Action International Martial Arts Association) World Championships in Dublin, where he won a bronze medal. The World Championships took place in October 2004, when he was a red belt competing in the junior division against other red and black belts. He made it to the semi-finals, where he lost to an Irish black belt named Niall Fitzmaurice in “a very close and tough fight”, and ended up winning a bronze medal. He later gained a 1st dan black belt on 11 March 2006.
Patel began his acting career in late 2006, when he auditioned for the E4 teen drama television series Skins. Patel’s mother saw the casting ad in a newspaper and took him to the audition even though he had a science exam the next day. After two auditions, he was cast in the role of Anwar Kharral, a British Pakistani Muslim teenager. According to fellow actors Mike Bailey (who played Sid Jenkins) and Hannah Murray (who played Cassie Ainsworth), the characterization of Anwar was partly based on the personality of Patel and the role was written specifically for him after he was cast in Skins. Patel, who had no professional acting experience, said that on “the first day of shooting I didn’t really know what to do.” The first series of the show aired in January 2007 and went on to win the Rose d’Or for Drama in 2008 and receive a nomination for Best Drama Series at the 2008 BAFTA Television Awards. Patel reprised his role as Anwar for the second series of Skins, which aired in February 2008. The second series of Skins won the Philips Audience Award at t]he 2009 BAFTA Television Awards in April 2009. In 2010 it was released that he would star in the Skins movie showing in summer 2011.
Patel made his feature film debut when he was cast in the role of Jamal Malik, the central character in Danny Boyle’s film Slumdog Millionaire. The character Jamal Malik is an Indian Muslim boy born and raised in the poverty of Bombay (known now as Mumbai) India. Boyle considered hundreds of young male actors, but found that Bollywood leads were generally “strong, handsome hero-types”, not the personality he was looking for. Boyle’s 17-year-old daughter Caitlin pointed him to the British television ensemble drama Skins, of which Patel was a cast member. After five auditions for the role, the actor was eventually cast in August 2007. The film’s producer found the original choice for the lead role, Ruslaan Mumtaz, too good looking for the role. Boyle said “I wanted a guy who didn’t look like a potential hero; I wanted him to earn that in the film.” To prepare for the role, Patel went along with Boyle while scouting for filming locations, where he was able to observe the Dharavi slums for himself. He also worked at a call centre for a day and in a hotel, where he washed dishes.
After the release of Slumdog Millionaire at the end of 2008, Patel went on to receive a number of awards for his performance, including a British Independent Film Award, National Board of Review (NBR) Award, Chicago Film Critics Association Award, and two Black Reel Awards for Best Actor and Best Breakthrough Performance. Patel was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 2009 Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards. The award eventually went posthumously to Heath Ledger for his performance in The Dark Knight, though Patel did win the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, which he shared with ten other cast members from Slumdog Millionaire. On 8 January 2009, Patel won the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Young Performer. He was also nominated for two London Critics Circle Film Awards, the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor, the 2009 BAFTA Award for Best Leading Actor, and European Film Award for Best Actor. The film itself won four Golden Globes, including Best Drama Film, and eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Patel played Zuko in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender, a feature film adaptation of the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, which was released July 1, 2010, to extremely negative reviews. Despite being a commercial success, the film was a critical failure and Patel even received a Razzie Award nomination as worst supporting actor that year.
Patel starred in the short film, “The Commuter”, which was directed by the McHenry Brothers to promote the Nokia N8 smartphone in the U.K. Fans who won a Nokia UK run competition starred alongside Dev Patel in the short film.
Patel stars in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, directed by John Madden, with Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and Maggie Smith. For this role he had to take lessons in perfecting an Indian-English accent, as his native English accent was so strong the producers felt if he kept the accent the film would be less believable.