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The remarkable rise of Bafta winner Dev Patel – a lion of an actor

BAFTA Film Awards, Dev Patel
(Image credit: Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment)

Dev Patel won best supporting actor at the Bafta film awards, capping a career that began with E4 teen drama Skins

From the TV screen to the silver screen, Dev Patel’s most recent role has seen him pick up a top accolade in the world of film.

The 26-year-old from London started his career on E4 teen drama Skins, but came to wider attention when he starred in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, which racked up seven Baftas including best film.

Oscar de la Renta gowns

Dev Patel and Slumdog co-star Freida Pinto (Ian West/PA)


Dev was nominated for the best leading actor Bafta for his role in the 2008 hit – and now less than a decade later, he has a Bafta to his name in the form of best supporting actor for his part in Lion.

Since Slumdog, he has had star turns in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its sequel, sci-fi Chappie and Aaron Sorkin’s TV series The Newsroom, but has said his role in Lion is the one he has been waiting for.

In it, Dev played a man separated from his family in India as a young child, adopted by Australians and who was an early adopter of Google Earth and used it to find his way home.

The emotional performance landed him nominations at the Oscars, the Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAGs) and the Golden Globes.

Dev Patel (Ian West/PA)

Dev Patel (Ian West/PA)


Dev had never acted professionally before he answered an open casting call for the groundbreaking E4 series Skins.

After winning his Bafta, he said: “My mum took me to an open casting of Skins after she saw an advert in Metro newspaper and 10 years on we are here at the Baftas and that is pretty amazing.”

In 2009, Dev’s mother Anita said her son was nervous about baring all for his role in the teen drama. But she added she did not mind him appearing nude in the show, which featured frequent storylines about sex and drugs.

Dev, who now lives in Los Angeles, found it tricky to get the kind of work he wanted after Slumdog despite the film’s huge success.

Casting agents assumed the Skins star, who grew up in Harrow, in north west London, was Indian.

Dev Patel

Dev Patel (Ian West/PA)


“After Slumdog I found it hard to find substantial follow-ups. It’s hard when there is nothing good out there that is not your usual goofy best friend/funny sidekick/techie roles, so when a script like this comes by, it’s very rare,” he told Radio Times magazine.

Earlier this month he said flying into America felt like 'a nightmare' after Donald Trump’s travel ban was announced.

He told the Press Association: “I’ve decided not to be quiet about how I’m feeling. I live here now. I have a home here. When I arrived back from India I felt like I was entering into a nightmare.

“I’m really grateful to the people out there marching and standing outside airports and all the protesters.”

Dev said unveiling Lion felt very different to his experiences promoting the film that made him a star.

Dev Patel

Dev Patel (Ian West/PA)


He said: “When Slumdog first premiered it was the time people were passing around badges that read Hope, and (Barack) Obama was about to step up and there was a beautiful loving atmosphere in the air, and the film spoke to that.

“Now we are in a very different stage, we socially, politically, feel more tender. People are worried.

“As an actor I am having conversations about how relevant it is to promote a film when the fabric of society is fraying.

“But I snuck into the end of a screening to watch the last seven minutes and was quite moved by the message it is putting out of unification and love that transcends continents. It makes me happy.”


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