With the Oscars a week and change away, the Internet’s #hottake machine has churned out assessments of the nominated films from just about every conceivable angle. La La Land is the best and also the worst, blah blah white savior blah blah movie magic blah blah Emma Stone’s unaccountable loathing of backup singers. Denzel Washington: Should definitely beat alleged sexual harasser Casey Affleck in the Best Actor race, except should also definitely not. Hollywood deciding Mel Gibson is out of movie jail and handing his Hacksaw Ridge six nominations: Qué?
But there is one topic—one SERIOUS AND WORTHY TOPIC—that for some reason has not yet been tackled by Big Journalism, and it is this: When did Dev Patel get hot?
Because he didn’t used to be, right? Back when he was starring in his first Oscar-nominated film, 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, he was, y’know… cute. In a pinch-your-cheeks sort of way, obviously. He was 18 when the movie came out. Look at this sugar-frosted muffin of a human being. He’s fucking adorable.
Now, nine years down the line, Patel is on the awards circuit again as a Best Supporting Actor nominee for Lion. At some point he got (sorry) Lions-meltingly (no I’m not) attractive. I’m a little confused by it. I know what you’ll say: “Rebecca, there is literally no mystery here. It’s just that he aged. That’s literally the whole thing. I don’t know why you’re being so dramatic about this. In fact, I am going to leave a comment about how this post is stupid and I don’t care about it at all, which is a stupid thing to do on a post that I am taking the time to leave a comment on, but whatever, I like to look down my nose at other people and don’t really know what ‘not caring’ looks like.”
ZIP IT RIGHT NOW.
And I NEED TO TALK ABOUT IT WITH SOMEONE, GOD HELP ME.
Patel’s first major role after Slumdog Millionaire was playing angry emo clown (I say that with love) Prince Zuko in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender, a movie that rendered everyone in it approximately a third as hot as they would have otherwise been through the sheer power of its awfulness. Yeah, sorry, breakdancing earthbenders. Maybe it shouldn’t have taken five of you to move a single goddamn pebble.
His first big role post-Slumdog being in one of the most maligned adaptations of all time didn’t exactly do wonders for Patel’s career, and the next few years were relatively quiet. He was in the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel movies, which are by most accounts low-key enjoyable even though no one under the age of 65 has seen them.
It’s not a terrible look, as looks go. It’s fine. But if I had to make out with someone in that picture, I’d make out with Maggie Smith, just to be able to say I made out with Maggie Smith. Don’t look at me like that. I know a good half of you would do the exact same thing.
Next up was a role in “The Newsroom,” a show that benefited from the inherent sexual magnetism that graces any Aaron Sorkin production. I have never watched The Newsroom, because I would rather pull my own teeth out than willfully submit myself to a show where Sorkin self-righteously bloviates at me about the ~*~STATE OF AMERICA~*~ (yes, that includes The West Wing. No, I don’t care).
But based on a quick Google Image Search… it’s getting better. He’s growing his hair out and getting a bit more rumpled-looking, which works. His next few movies presented variations on the same clean-cut semi-nerd theme. Sometimes for the better, as in the case of WWI-era biopic The Man Who Knew Too Much…
…and sometimes for the worse, as in Chappie.
An UNDERRATED MASTERPIECE, to be sure, but not one that was concerned with making its characters look particularly attractive or stylish. Hugh Jackman had a ducktail mullet, for Chrissakes.
And then Lion happened, wherein Dev Patel looks like a scuzzy surfer bro college student who doesn’t wash his hair as much as he should and probably smells a little grody and definitely vapes, AND. IT. WORKS?!?!?!?
LIKE REALLY REALLY WORKS?
I don’t know if you can properly call it Longbottoming, since Patel was never particularly weird-looking, just kind of cute in an average sort of way. But God damn does a beard and a few skipped trips to the barber change his look entirely.
June 18, 2014:
November 4, 2014:
February 27, 2015:
And January 8, 2017, with bonus Lion co-star Sunny Pawar. (I know, I know, dirty pool):
No one let Dev Patel cut his hair ever again.