The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - SARAH GRANT

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.

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