After starring in best picture-winner Slumdog Millionaire, Dev Patel moved on to a project that couldn’t have been worse-received.
2010’s Avatar: The Last Airbender was rejected by fans of the beloved Nickelodeon property, taken to task by critics and faced accusations of whitewashing. For Patel, the experience on the M. Night Shyamalan film changed his view of Hollywood and the types of roles he would take.
“I don’t know what I would like to play, but I know what I’m afraid of playing: those big studio movies. After Slumdog, I did a film that was not well received at all. The budget of Slumdog was like the budget of the craft services of this movie,” Patel said during The Hollywood Reporter Actor Roundtable. “And I completely felt overwhelmed by the experience. I felt like I wasn’t being heard. That was really scary for me, and that’s really when I learned the power of no, the idea of saying no. Listen to that instinct you get when you read those words for the first time.”
Patel, who played Prince Zuko, said watching his own work on the film, he “saw a stranger on the screen that I couldn’t relate to.”
Read the full Actor Roundtable here. It features plenty of fun superhero tidbits, such as Andrew Garfield expressing regret over his Amazing Spider-Man movies and Jeff Bridges recalling performing rewrites on Iron Man.