Dev Patel will play David Copperfield in a new adaptation co-written and directed by Veep creator Armando Innucci. Based on the Charles Dickens novel, the upcoming adaptation will set the story in modern times. The Dickens novel is so popular that it has been adapted numerous times before, into six live-action films, two animated films, and five miniseries. This newest version is co-written by Simon Blackwell and produced by Iannucci and Kevin Loader. It was developed with FilmNation.
The novel, which is generally known simply as David Copperfield due to the full title being 24 words long, is generally believed to be at least somewhat autobiographical. It tells the story of Copperfield, who was sent to live with a servant's family as a child, then to boarding school and eventually work by an unkind step-father. After running away to live with his aunt, Copperfield is able to complete his education and manages to become a rich and successful author who searches for happiness and love. Throughout his life Copperfield sees numerous acts of dishonor and dishonesty, but also meets a number of kind people who help him and others.
Patel, whose casting was announced by Variety, is the first actor to join this adaptation. Playing Copperfield's rags to riches story is right up Patel's alley, as he's previously played characters who were very poor in childhood and who found their way accidentally or otherwise to a more stable financial situation in the Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire and in Lion - the latter film earning him an Oscar nomination.
The British born Patel has also been seen in the movies Avatar: The Last Airbender, Chappie, and both The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and sequel. He's also starred on the TV series The Newsroom. Currently Patel is filming a role in the movie The Wedding Guest and he made his directorial debut with the independent film Home Shopper which had its premiere at Sundance. Meanwhile, Iannucci has been writing, directing, and executive producing Veep since its inception and just directed and co-wrote Death to Stalin.
Books by Dickens are often adapted for film and television. Currently there is a new version of A Christmas Carol in the works thanks to Tom Hardy, Ridley Scott, and Stephen Knight. And just this past November The Man Who Invented Christmas - a movie about Dickens writing A Christmas Carol - was released in theaters. Now this latest version of David Copperfield is starting to come together with Patel's casting. It should be interesting to see both Patel's take on the famous character, and how Dickens' work fits into today's modern world.