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From Black Belt To Slumdog

An Interview with Dev Patel

by Marek Hanzel

Dev Patel competiting

He hasn’t ruled out using his skills on the screen in an action movie or similar genre in the future, but feels that perhaps he isn’t ready yet to . 


“That would be fun, but I don't really think I can cut the mustard as the generic hero type at this age,” he jokes.


Certainly, he has plenty of time to steer his career where he wants it to go. Currently he wants to explore “strong, deep and challenging characters” and has already identified some heavy hitters he wouldn’t mind working with.


“Jim Carrey, Will Smith and Leonardo Di Caprio, would be an absolute dream to work,” he says. “And Bruce Lee. But that’s really going to be a dream, isn't it?” Patel’s next project almost seems too good to be true – a movie that requires him to use his martial arts knowledge.


The Last Airbender, is based on the cartoon series Avatar – The Last Airbender, an Emmy award-winning American animated television series that blends martial arts and fantasy in a fictional world influenced by Western and Eastern culture. Human civilization is divided into four ‘nations’ in the story: the ‘Water Tribes’, the ‘Air Nomads’ the ‘Earth Kingdom’, and the evil ‘Fire Nation’.


Each ‘nation’ bases its society on its own natural element and has an order of so-called “benders” who can control and use the elements to their advantage. In it, the main characters fight against the ‘Fire Nation’.


Patel will play Zuko, a prince from the ‘Fire Nation’ who will eventually turn against his people and support the story’s main character, Ang – the incarnation of the Avatar, the spirit of the planet in human form.


The cartoon’s animation involves a lot of Kung fu-based action scenes and so the film is expected to use Chinese arts as the base for its stunts and fight choreography.


Filming is expected to start soon with a tentatively scheduled release date of mid-2010.


So it seems, his two loves; Taekwon-do and acting, have blended and created a perfect outlet for Dev and a great reward for his hard work in both endeavours.


Despite BIFA’s, BAFTA’s, Golden Globes and World Championship medals (and possibly Oscars), Dev remains humble - the true essence of a martial artist. We wish him luck in the future in both fields.



This interview was first published in issue #1 of Totally Tae Kwon Do magazine in March, 2009. Since then, Dev has gone onto star in a number of films (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Chappie) as well as a hit US TV Show, The News Room.


Dev still pops into the Academy from time to time, when in London to viist his parents. Dev’s actual black belt grading can be viewed by visiting the video section of this web site.




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Dev Patel Sparring
Dev Patel and Mr Stuart Anslow Cover

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