During our recent webcam chat (watch above), Dev Patel reveals that when he landed the lead role in Garth Davis‘ “Lion,” he called up his manager and said, “For the next eight months, I don’t want any distractions. I don’t want you to send me anything. I want to fully commit to this role because it commands that. It deserves that.” This Weinstein Company release tells the true story of Saroo Brierley, an Indian boy who at the age of five was separated from his family in Calcutta, eventually being adopted by an Australian couple. Patel plays the adult Saroo, who sets out searching for his mother and brother 25 years later.
“We’re dealing with a sensitive issue,” divulges Patel, “because these people are alive.” He prepared for the role through, “a process of isolation,” in which he, “traveled across India on trains, writing diaries, trying to understand what it would be like to be alone.” He was helped by Davis, who gave him, “all sorts of strange exercises,” including staring at himself in the mirror for hours, which was about, “looking inside, and being completely honest and vulnerable, being confident in that stillness.”
Patel was first introduced to the world in Danny Boyle‘s Best Picture-winner “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008), for which he received BAFTA and SAG nominations. He recalls the amazing awards story of that film as being, “absolute madness. When you’re 17 years old, and you’ve just landed your first film gig, and then all of a sudden it goes on to win eight Oscars, it’s insane for anyone.” Ultimately, “it was a beautiful experience, and something that allowed me to build a career.”
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