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Nikesh Patel: "My dream role is Prince Hal with a lightsaber"

As part of a new series, Nikesh Patel takes us through his dream roles, casts his perfect James Bond film and explains why Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is overrated 

Nikesh Patel
Nikesh Patel

Nikesh Patel has a helluva pitch for his dream James Bond film. 

It would star Olivia Coleman as the villain, Nick Jonas as her henchman – not a bad shout: he's great in Kingdom – Lashana Lynch as Bond and Patel himself as the love interest. 

We'd watch the hell out that one. (Although our money remains on Regé-Jean Page.) 

Patel plays a film star in new BBC comedy Starstruck – very convincingly we should add – so maybe he'll one day don the tuxedo. 

What was your ‘big break?’

My first job was a play - Disconnect by Anupama Chandrasekhar at the Royal Court Theatre. I was still at drama school and left early to do it.

I was surrounded by incredibly kind, talented and experienced people, playing a brilliant part. It really confirmed for me that I'd found my calling.

What film / theatre production changed your life? 

We got shown La Haine during french class at school and it was like a shot of adrenaline.

I hadn't watched a lot of world cinema but it really opened my eyes to the possibility of film.

Who’s your acting inspiration? 

The great Irrfan Khan left a huge void when he passed away last year. He just made it look so effortless.

Oscar Isaac is a really exciting, versatile actor who always makes really interesting choices (except that one X-Men film he was in).

I'm lobbying aggressively to play Rishi Sunak

What’s the dream role you haven’t yet played?

I've always found Hal's story in Henry IV really compelling. A prince trying to find his purpose in a kingdom wracked with division... I think there's something in that.

Either that or a Jedi. My dream role is Prince Hal with a lightsaber.

What person – contemporary or historical – would you play in a biopic?

There are going to be a lot of a Covid dramas made, aren't there? I'm lobbying aggressively to play Rishi Sunak.

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Let’s play snog, marry, avoid, only with Film, Theatre and TV. What are your picks and why?

Snog Film. Shooting a film is exhilarating. Life-changing, even. But then suddenly it's over and you're left exhausted and wondering whether it was real.

Avoid Theatre. Oh, Theatre (I'm going to address you directly). You know you're my first love. But neither of us have really been allowed out for a year! I think we both need to get back out there, maybe make some questionable decisions and reconnect with what makes us tick. It's only temporary. We both know we'll be seeing each other again.

Marry TV. There's a bit more stability with TV. You spend quality time together, and there's the possibility of multiple series, so it's not like you have a great time together and then suddenly you're ghosted. Film might get all the headlines, but most of your friends would much rather spend time with Telly! (I feel like I've overlaboured this).

Cast your perfect James Bond film with contemporary actors (feel free to include yourself). Who’s playing…

Bond: I'm not going to suggest myself, that's too obvious. Lashana Lynch is rumoured to be playing 007 in the next one, right? They should give it to her and shake things up.

The Villain: Olivia Colman.

The Henchman: Nick Jonas.

The Girl: Me. Let's shake things up.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom can get in the bin

What beloved work – film, TV show or play – do you think is totally overrated and why? 

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom can get in the bin. Its depictions of Indian culture have not aged well.

Chilled monkey brains?! Do me a favour.

And what work do you think deserves more love?

Spiderman: Into The Spider-Verse. When I tell people it's a modern classic they're initially skeptical because it's a) animated and b) a superhero film.

Then they watch it and come crawling back to tell me how right I was.

What upcoming projects of yours should we look out for?

Starstruck is out on BBC iPlayer now.