Dev Patel has criticised the glitz and glamour of awards ceremonies as the legal battle over the immigrant ban in the U.S. rumbles on.
The 26-year-old is set to attend the Oscars later this month (Feb17) after landing his first-ever acting nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Lion.
However, the stark contrast between the glamour of the awards ceremonies, and the state of U.S. politics under current president Donald Trump, is not lost on the British actor who won the gong for Best Supporting Actor at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) on Sunday night (12Feb17).
“What are we doing?” Patel asked the Hollywood Reporter. “What are we doing walking these red carpets when people can’t even walk out of an airport?”
Trump imposed a ban on travel to the U.S. for people from seven Muslim-majority countries, leading to chaos, deportations and fury around the country, and the world. The executive order, signed by Trump earlier this month (Feb17) is currently locked in a legal battle after it was overruled by a federal appeals court.
In Lion, Patel plays Saroo Brierly, an Australian of Indian descent who was adopted by a Tasmanian family after being separated from his birth mother. The movie follows his journey as he tracks her down using Google Maps and goes back to India to meet her.
The actor said he is distraught people were being turned away from the U.S. purely because of their religion, just as he is being accepted in Hollywood for his culture.
“I’m at a moment in my career that I’ve worked really hard for, where I’ve been accepted for my culture, for my uniqueness,” he explained. “I’ve been pushing so hard to be embraced, and it has finally happened. While outside, in the real world, there are people being turned away from these shores and being thrown back into the conflict zones. So you’re constantly thinking, “What does this even matter?”
And Patel credits Lion for being especially poignant in the ongoing political battle over the Muslim ban.
“Without giving (Lion) too much importance – because it’s not going to cure anything – if it’s going to be a salve or provide some relief or hope, then that is amazing because all we’re doing is trying to entertain and enlighten.
“A film like this, particularly, feels quite poignant right now because it’s about a love that transcends continents. It’s about a love that transcends race, ethnicity, religion,” he added.