ACTOR DEV PATEL THRIVES ON UPLIFTING FILMS LIKE EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL
Given the success of the 2011 film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, was it a no-brainer when they asked you to do a sequel?
None of us expected the response the first one got, but we did assemble our avengers in terms of the cast (Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Bill Nighy all star). The first one was a dream to film and we all got along like a house on fire, so the task was to make the next story bigger and better.
You had no feature-film experience when you were cast in Slumdog Millionaire in 2008, and now you’ve completed two films with the legends of British cinema. I’m guessing Slumdog changed your life?
Absolutely. It was an opportunity that opened so many doors for me – it created my career.
Both Slumdog and the Marigold films have so much heart – is that important for you when you’re fielding scripts?
Heart and hope are the main things; I love films with uplifting qualities. My character in Slumdog was the epitome of an underdog, and quite similar to my character in Marigold, Sonny, the ultimate optimist.
Sonny has a close relationship with Maggie Smith’s character Muriel. Did that transpire off screen, as well?
Maggie is just the most wonderful, graceful human being; I still have to pinch myself that I have spent so much time working with her.
I read a quote from Marigold director, John Madden, saying all the film’s veterans were equally as dazzled by you.
I think John was being generous there. But you’ve got to up your game when you’re acting with these guys.
You were born in London – did you have much knowledge of India before your film career took off?
I’d been to India once as a young kid, got bitten by lots of mosquitoes and basically thought it was awful. And then I got cast in Slumdog and went to discover Bombay with (director) Danny Boyle, and it was the most overwhelmingly beautiful experience. I’ve been there many times now and I love it.
Where is home for you these days?
I’m quite the nomad; I just bought a tiny little place in Los Angeles that I can keep my stuff in, but I’m away a lot. Actually, I’m going to be in Australia filming this year.
I know, with Nicole Kidman in the film Lion. Have you been to Australia before?
I haven’t. It’s my first time, so I need tips.
In the TV series The Newsroom, you play the nerdy IT type. Do you spend much time online in real life?
Ironically, I’m a technophobe. I’m not on Facebook or Twitter or any of those things. I’m not savvy at all with technology.
Aaron Sorkin (The Newsroom producer and screenwriter) has a polarising reputation. What’s he like to work with?
Aaron’s a legend and his writing is the star of the show. He’s very specific – he demands a level of professionalism and talent – so you’ve got to come with your A-game.
You and your girlfriend, Freida Pinto, met on Slumdog
Millionaire. While you have recently split, do you hope to work together again?
(PR interrupts and cuts the interview.) The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opens today.
Dev Patel (right) reprises his role as hotel manager Sonny in
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.