Dev Patel revs up his career

After shooting to fame in the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, Dev Patel readies for a TV -breakthrough on Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom on HBO.

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If Dev Patel's life is charmed, then he's been the wizard casting his own magic spell with talent, enthusiasm and hard work. At the ripe old age of 22, this unassuming Brit has already shot to worldwide fame as Jamal Malik, an Indian Muslim boy born and raised in the poverty of Mumbai and the lovestruck hero of Danny Boyle's Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire (2008).

As of late, he's basking in golden reviews as Sonny - a name that hints at his warmth and positive energy - the young and ebullient manager of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, trading lines with British movie icons Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith and Tom Wilkinson, portraying British pensioners who wind up in less-than-luxurious quarters when they "outsource" their retirement to seemingly less expensive India.

Now Patel, linked to his Slumdog co-star Freida Pinto since 2009, has landed on the hotly anticipated new HBO series The Newsroom, the latest creation from executive producer and scriptwriter extraordinaire Aaron Sorkin(The Social Network, The West Wing).

The Newsroom takes a behind-the-scenes look at a cable-news programme at the fictional ACN Networ; Patel joins a stellar cast that includes Jeff Daniels as anchor, Sam Waterson as news boss and Jane Fonda, giving a rare appearance as the head of the network.

When senior staff quit en masse, the ACN network newsroom falls into the hands of "very young, very green people", says Sorkin. Patel plays Neil Sampat, a nerdy blog writer and news scanner who covered the London subway bombings with a camera phone.

"We cast Dev Patel as Neil," adds Sorkin, "and with a small role he was so great in the pilot that you just want to write more and more for him."

Dev Patel: in his own words

* On giving voice to Aaron Sorkin's dialogue in The Newsroom — "He's one of the most intelligent men I've ever met. I feel like I'm way too stupid to be on the show. But I'm incredibly blessed to be on it. The scripts he writes every two weeks … I don't know how he does it. They rival any movie script I've read. I can't wait for the world to see it."

* On pleasing Aaron Sorkin — "If you see white on the page with him, you're lucky. He's such a perfectionist, down to the significance of a single comma. So as an actor, to gain his trust is a beautiful thing, because he demands so much. You can't circulate — you've got to smack the nail on the head."

* On what he learnt from the acting greats — "More than anything, I learnt to just stay humble and stay intrigued. They've been in the business so long, and they still have that excitement about going to work and experiencing new things."

* On returning to India to shoot The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel — "That place is really special to me, especially after Slumdog… When I went there before, no one knew who ... I was. I wasn't a Bollywood movie star. And I went out there after doing this movie that was so dear to the nation, and everyone was so enthusiastic and well-wishing."

The Newsroom premieres on Sunday on HBO in North America; a date for the UAE is yet to be confirmed.