A Minute With: Dev Patel from "Slumdog" to "Airbender"

Thu Jul 1, 2010 3:57pm EDT
 
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - British actor Dev Patel had a dream start to his film career digging into his Indian heritage to play the lead role in British director Danny Boyle's Oscar-winning "Slumdog Millionaire."

His second film, M. Night Shyamalan's "The Last Airbender," is being panned by the critics, but Patel's performance as an a vengeful fire-spewing prince has earned some of the film's only praise on the eve of its U.S. release on Friday.

Patel, still only 20 years-old, talked to Reuters about the pressure on the set of "Airbender" following "Slumdog", how he is now mobbed in India and how he and co-star Freida Pinto parlayed their working relationship into a more intimate one.

Q: Why did you accept this as your second major film? The "Slumdog" role created this wholesome image for you, how much will playing more of an evil prince in "Airbender" shake up that good boy persona?

A: "I wanted to do something that was as different as possible as to "Slumdog" and this is a whole 180 (degrees)...I wanted to avoid being typecast.

"I came into this industry as an actor and I want to leave being an actor. So I want to be as versatile as possible. With "Slumdog" it was a such a great experience but there was so much exposure and we had to do so much press to build this film up with no money. We sort of became overexposed and were in all of those silly gossip magazines. I don't want to become one of those celebrities, I just want to be a good actor."

Q: Did you feel more pressure on set this time around?

A: "I was just as nervous as I was in "Slumdog," maybe if not more, because you know the whole added pressure of coming off a film like that and everyone expecting another Academy Award-winning film, which is obviously not going to be the case with this, it is a whole different sort of market."   Continued...

 
<p>British actor Dev Patel is seen as Prince Zuko in the movie "The Last Airbender" in this undated publicity photo released on July 1, 2010. REUTERS/Zade Rosenthal/Paramount Pictures/Nickelodeon Movies/Handout</p>