Slumdog Star Dev Patel Joins the cast of 'The Last Airbender'

by Joey Paur

It looks like the star from 'Slumdog Millionair' Dev Patel has joined the cast of M. Night Shymalan's 'The Last Airbender' which is a live action version of the popular Nickelodeon cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender'. Patel will be replacing teen pop idol Jesse McCartney, who will be on tour singing to a bunch of tween girls. I think this casting decision was a really good move on Shyamalan's part. Not sure if it is such a good move on Patel's part, Shyamalan has been dropping the ball lately. Variety reports:

Patel will be featured alongside newcomer Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, Jackson Rathbone and Jessica Jade Andres. Production begins in mid-March in Greenland.

Patel will play Zuko, a member of the Fire Nation. Peltz plays the Water Tribe rep Katara, while Andres is the Earth Kingdom's representative, Suki.

In casting Patel and Ringer, a director accustomed to delivering plot twists to audiences got some surprises of his own. Ringer is a complete unknown who was tapped for the title role off an Internet audition. Patel, meanwhile, steps into a role that Jesse McCartney had all but locked up until the actor's second career as a musician got in the way.

"Jesse had tour dates that conflicted with a boot camp I always hold on my films, and where the actors here have to train for martial arts," Shyamalan said.

Patel was "already one of the guys I was interested in. Then I saw 'Slumdog Millionaire,' and the kid just grew in my eyes," he said.

Tyro thesp Ringer will play Aang, the film's lead, who is the last of a race of people who can manipulate the elements of air.

Ringer, a 12-year-old from Texas, landed the part after demonstrating his martial arts skills in an Internet vid that he posted to a website Shyamalan set up for open virtual auditions.

While McCartney was knocked out by scheduling, Rathbone managed to work around a conflict with "New Moon," where he will reprise his role as a bloodsucker from "Twilight."

I think this movie will end up being ok. Right now Shaymalan needs to have some ground rules set by good producers. We have seen what he does when they give him full creative control. He has been getting very sloppy with his film making. With 'The Last Airbender' he is working with an already establised product with a built in audience, that is being made as a family type film, so he is expanding his audience base. Because of all that, this may end up being one of his bigger money makers. As for the quality of the film and how the story is told, we will just have to wait and see.

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