To prepare for the role, Patel went along with Boyle while scouting for filming locations, where he was able to observe the Dharavi slums for himself.
He also worked at a call centre for a day and in a hotel, where he washed dishes.
He was awarded full marks for his GCSE performance to a live audience and the visiting examiner was moved to tears by his honest portrayal." He completed his AS Levels in PE, Biology, History, and Drama in 2007 at Whitmore High School while working on Skins.
Patel said that he was "bloody energetic" as a child, and used to get in trouble at school because of it.
Patel was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 2009 Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards.
Grant, Tom Hollander, Derek Jacobi, Kelly Macdonald, Helen Mirren, Jeremy Northam, Clive Owen, Ryan Phillippe, Maggie Smith, Geraldine Somerville, Kristin Scott Thomas, Sophie Thompson, Emily Watson, James Wilby Christine Baranski, Ekaterina Shchelkanova, Taye Diggs, Denise Faye, Colm Feore, Richard Gere, Deidre Goodwin, Queen Latifah, Lucy Liu, Susan Misner, Mýa, John C.
which was released 1 July 2010 to extremely negative reviews.
Despite being a commercial success, the film was a critical failure and Patel even received a Razzie Award nomination as Worst Supporting Actor that year, although his role was well received, and was considered by many to be one of the film's positive aspects.
He also appeared alongside James Franco and Heather Graham in About Cherry, which premiered at the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival.
In 2014, Patel starred alongside Robert Sheehan and Zoë Kravitz in the film, The Road Within, about three unlikely friends, one with Tourette's syndrome (Sheehan), one with OCD (Patel) and an anorexic woman (Kravitz) who go on a road trip. Variety had positive words for the "bristling and committed performances by Robert Sheehan, Dev Patel and Zoe Kravitz" while noting that "there remains a nagging tidiness to the whole endeavor that leaves a strained, cloying aftertaste" that kept the movie from truly succeeding.
In 2006, Patel began his acting career when he auditioned for the E4 teen drama television series Skins.