• Golden Globe Awards

Nominee Profile 2021: Dev Patel, “The Personal History of David Copperfield”

Dev Patel plays the eponymous David Copperfield in The Personal History of David Copperfield, directed by Armando Iannucci. It’s his second Golden Globe nomination – his first was in 2017 for Lion.
Although he’s only 30 years old, it seems as though this British born actor has been on the scene for a very long time, delivering consistently interesting work. Dev was first seen by international audiences in 2008 in Danny Boyle’s smash hit, Slumdog Millionaire, playing the part of a slum dweller in Mumbai who gets a chance to take part in the TV show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? He brought warmth, heart and humor to the movie, which connected with audiences internationally, as well as winning multiple prestigious awards and nominations. He was only 17 when filming began and by the time the movie was finished and distributed, he was in a serious relationship with his co-star Frieda Pinto, which lasted five years.
It was his Indian born mother who insisted he audition for his first part in a British TV show called Skins. He got the part on his first ever audition. He was funny and charming about this the first time he spoke to the HFPA in 2008.
“The way I got into acting was because my mum saw an ad in the paper for auditions for a teen drama. She saw there was an open call and she just told me she was taking me to it. I said: “you can’t. I’m not a trained actor and it’s not going to work”. She said

“I believe in you and I’m going to take you.” She has literally been my driving force”.
Mrs. Patel clearly saw very early what directors and audiences would quickly see in all the subsequent work Dev has done. Danny Boyle’s attention to Patel’s talent was sparked by his teenage daughter, who pointed him out to her dad in Skins. Boyle had been struggling to find an Indian national for the role, without success, but when he met Patel, the dilemma was resolved. Dev moved to Mumbai for several months, spending time with slum dwellers his own age, as well as training in Bollywood choreography.
He has worked consistently since then in film and television, maturing nicely, while never losing that warmth and lightness of touch that first seduced audiences. His next role was in M. Night Shyamalan’s fantasy flick The Last Airbender (2010). Then, it was back to India for his next part in the huge hit The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel the following year.
Aaron Sorkin cast him in the HBO series The Newsroom with Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer, where he played a news blogger. Other movies he’s been in since include Neill Blomkamp’s sci-fi drama Chappie (2015) and in another Indian drama about mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan in The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015).
Dev’s first Golden Globe nomination came in 2016, when he starred opposite Nicole Kidman in the movie Lion (2017), the story of two boys who get lost in India when a train they are playing on takes off and they have no idea how to get home or even where it is. As an adult living in Australia, his character Saroo Brierley, uses Google Earth to try to locate his birth family in India.
Speaking to The Guardian newspaper at the time the movie came out, Dev revealed a warmth and humility about taking his family to the premiere in London, all the while, never forgetting that although he might be a movie star now, he was once a big fan, dying to get an autograph or a selfie with a star.
“I brought my mum, father, sister and grandparents to the London Film Festival premiere in Leicester Square. It was a beautiful, full-circle moment. Ten years previously, I’d stood outside that cinema at the Hancock premiere, waiting for three hours for Will Smith. I got a picture of his forehead and remember thinking: wow, this is so incredible! Now, my goofy mug is on these pictures and I’m standing next to Nicole Kidman. My mum was very proud and torn to pieces by the film.”
The world of cinema continues to be his oyster. As well as a Golden Globe nomination for The Personal History of David Copperfield, he has also been nominated for a Best Actor Award by the British Independent Film Awards.