It didn't take long for Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel to go Hollywood. M. Night Shyamalan has cast the 18-year-old actor for his supernatural martial-arts movie The Last Airbender, which begins filming in Greenland next month.
"Patel was already one of the guys I was interested in," Shyamalan told Variety. "Then I saw Slumdog Millionaire, and the kid just grew in my eyes."
The movie is the first in a planned trilogy that Shyamalan is writing, directing and producing based on Emmy-winning animated TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender. Patel replaces actor/musician Jesse McCartney, who decided to skip Shyamalan's martial-arts "boot camp" for the movie to do tour dates, according to Variety.
The casting marks a speedy trajectory for Patel (pictured with Slumdog co-star Freida Pinto), but pales next to the out-of-nowhere momentum enjoyed by Noah Ringer. The 12-year-old Texan, who stars in the movie as air-manipulator Aang, got hired after submitted a video showcasing his martial arts skills to a website Shyamalan set up for virtual auditions.