Preparing for his critically acclaimed role in the Australian film Lion, British actor Dev Patel had to go to unusual lengths to get into character.
The 26-year-old’s impressive transformation for the film involved watching Australian reality TV, Google Maps training and a physical makeover, earning him awards season buzz and thousands of new admirers.
Watch the video above to hear more about Dev’s role
Patel plays Saroo Brierley, a Tasmanian man whose unbelievable origin story provides the basis for Lion.
Born in a small village in central India, Brierley was separated from his birth mother at the age of five, placed in an orphanage and then adopted by a couple from Hobart.
Twenty-five years later, Brierley, desperate to return to his roots, uses Google Maps to locate the town he was born in and reunite with his mother.
It’s an incredible story expertly brought to the big screen by director Garth Davis and a talented cast, including Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara.
However, a major part of the film’s success rests on the shoulders of Patel, whose own upbringing in suburban London couldn’t be further from Brierley’s.
First, Patel had to master the Australian accent – a challenging feat few Hollywood talents have been able to convincingly conquer.
“This was a big stretch for me – it’s hard. In my first audition I’m sure I sounded like Crocodile Dundee,” Patel told The New Daily while in Sydney to promote the film.
Patel spent eight months with a vocal coach, but also found one particular Aussie reality television staple very helpful.
“I watched a lot of Australian MasterChef for my audition,” Patel revealed. “I love it, it’s a great show.”
Brierley’s reliance on the technology of Google Earth – at that time a relatively new innovation – is a key part of the film and one which required extreme focus on Patel’s behalf.
“I actually had to have Google Maps lessons twice a week, because I’m so bad,” Patel revealed.
“On the schedule there was weight training, accent training and then ‘Dev’s one hour of Google Maps’. I’m just bad with technology.”
The film’s production team even reached out to Google to get the authentic 2008 version Brierley actually used.
The hard work has paid off – Patel scored himself a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor (he lost out to Aaron Taylor-Johnson for Nocturnal Animals) and has been the subject of Oscar buzz since the film’s first preview.
While Patel has built an impressive career on both television and cinema screens – from the unforgettable Slumdog Millionaire in 2008 to the beloved Best Exotic Marigold Hotel films – Lion is the movie that sees him transition from reliable lead actor to bona fide movie star.
Patel’s transformation also extended to his looks. The naturally lanky actor – whose parents are both of Indian background – had to ditch his signature dorky look in favour of pumped-up biceps, long, unruly hair and a hipster beard.
His new look has attracted plenty of internet admirers, with media outlets such as Buzzfeed deeming him “super hot”.
let's 🗣 talk 🗣 about 🗣how 🗣 dev patel 🗣 is 🗣 super 🗣hot 🗣 pic.twitter.com/nfaqdakGmt
— sz (@zarasaidane) January 9, 2017
For Patel, however, the attention he’s getting for his rugged good looks comes second to the critical reception he’s scoring for Lion which is, by the way, a must-watch.
“I wish I could be oblivious to it [the buzz] but how can you not be?” Patel said.
“You get that call in the morning that you’ve just been nominated for a Golden Globe and you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s cool’.”