Suraj Sharma captured the hearts of moviegoers everywhere as the star of Ang Lee's adaptation of "Life of Pi" (2012), a mind-bending tale of a young castaway adrift at sea with a predatory animal. A native of New Delhi, India, Sharma had no acting experience before he was cast in the film, which was based on Yann Martel's 2001 best-selling fantasy novel of the same name. Accompanying his older brother to an audition, Sharma was encouraged to try out himself and wound up landing the lead role. After beating out 3,000 hopefuls, Sharma had to spend 10 months in Taiwan training to act opposite an imaginary tiger and learning how to breathe underwater for more than a minute. He was also required to gain and then lose a drastic amount of weight. All his hard work paid off, as evidenced by the glowing reviews he received for his film debut as Pi Patel, a young man who learns how to survive being stranded in a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean after the ship carrying his family and their zoo animals sinks. Adrift at sea for 227 days, his only companion for most of the journey is a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, with whom he struggles to steer clear of. Sharma brought to life a character who struggles with practical matters like how to get fresh water as he also questions humanity and religion. Sharma's debut earned him critical acclaim, as well as plenty of awards buzz that year.