I would like to be a millionaire – 94% launched Dev Patel to stardom. It was his first film and earned him a Best Actor nomination at the Oscars. His second film had the opposite effect. It may well have sunk his career forever. Of course, I am referring to the unique and unrivaled bad The Last Airbender – 6%, based on the iconic and much-loved cartoon of [entity_embed style=”link-tomatometro” id_entity=”480530″][Temporada] Avatar: The Last Airbender: Book 3 (3)[/entity_embed]. That film earned the universal rejection of critics and the public. Needless to say, it was one of the most notorious box office flops and it was even the culprit that we did not have a fourth season of that show. In addition, it was one of the most notorious cases of whitewashing at the time.
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In a recent interview for The New York Times (via IndieWire) the actor spoke of the impact that film had on his career. Apparently, from the time it came out, he decided he no longer wanted anything to do with high-budget movies, which has frustrated his agents. The reason?
Maybe it’s a fear of how I fit into that world. It’s one of the worst movies I’ve made, I shouldn’t even mention it, but look it up quickly on IMDb and you’ll know what it is.
After that said, he mentioned that the real problem was green screens. Apparently the actor is not comfortable acting in front of so many green screens and says that he admires Marvel actors for being able to act in those conditions:
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I didn’t really flourish in that position. My hat is off to those amazing actors who make Marvel movies where there are those big noisy fans and green screens and tennis balls and I don’t know what else.
More than one actor has spoken of the difficulty of acting in spaces that do not exist and with unreal beings because the scenarios and fantastic beings are created with CGI. For example, Ewan McGregor, in the video series of Variety Actors on Actors, revealed that it was wonderful to act with the Yoda puppet, but can’t say the same for the CGI version. For him, that was no longer Yoda:
In the first movie that I made [de Star Wars] I was lucky to be able to do my scenes with Yoda’s puppet. And that was extraordinary, because she acted with him. He couldn’t believe he was acting with Yoda. There were a lot of people driving him and the stage was raised so that they were under the floor and then we would walk side by side and he was alive. So every time George said short, Yoda died because everyone just stopped. It was somewhat disturbing every time the end of the scene came. So they replaced it with a digital version for the second and third movies, and it wasn’t as endearing anymore. Also, we knew Yoda as a puppet. We knew him from the first movies as a puppet. So when all of a sudden it was CGI, it didn’t feel like Yoda to me anymore. It’s interesting that they decided to use a real puppet again for your series.
It is understandable that Patel want to avoid being in movies where most of the things we see on screen are nothing more than an illusion. There is no denying that there is a certain charm to using puppets or practical effects to bring the unreal to life.
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Dev Patel said The Last Airbender is the reason he doesn’t appear in high-budget films