The 'bad boy' of maths
Slumdog Millionaire star plays real-life maths genius in biographical movie The Man Who Knew Infinity
A biopic about an Indian mathematical genius at Cambridge University may sound dry, but Dev Patel sure knows how to sell it.
"The Man Who Knew Infinity is like Bad Boys, but instead of guns, we've got quill pens," the English actor joked to M, referencing the 1995 Martin Lawrence and Will Smith-starring buddy-cop action movie when he was in town for the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) last December.
"Jeremy Irons is Martin Lawrence, and I've got the ears, so I'm Will Smith," Patel said.
"It's like a mathematical bromance."
The Man Who Knew Infinity stars Patel as real-life maths prodigy Srinivasa Ramanujan, who travels from India to England to consult esteemed professor G.H. Hardy (Irons).
The film made its local premiere at SGIFF on Dec 4 and opens here on May 19.
Sporting a full beard and a cheeky smile, 26-year-old Patel has come a long way since his big-screen debut as precocious lad Jamal in 2008's Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire.
He has since worked with Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and Maggie Smith in comedy-drama The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its sequel, and will star alongside Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara in upcoming drama Lion, about an adopted Indian man who finds his long-lost hometown using Google Earth.
He said: "Actors like Jeremy (Irons) and Judi Dench are like titans. It's always really daunting, because when you're working with these actors they've done films for longer than I've been alive on this earth. What you worry about is that they look right through you and they think, 'Man, this guy's terrible'."
Still, Patel was grateful for the chance to share the screen with Irons, whom he described as "a real blessing".
As his character goes through an arranged marriage, would it be something Patel - who previously dated his Slumdog Millionaire co-star Freida Pinto for six years - would consider in real life?
"No, not at all," he said. "I don't think my parents would want that for me either... They're radical thinkers, man. For my first TV show (2007 British teen drama Skins), I was dry-humping and simulating sex before I even knew how to do it."
Patel said that his profession is like being in an arranged marriage as you are set up to act with people you may not know.
"Some co-stars you love and some you don't, but you make it work."