The only thing more unlikely than a movie about a boy adrift on a ship with a Bengali tiger is the tale of the film’s star.
Teenager Suraj Sharma went along with his acting brother to a Delhi, India, audition of “Life of Pi” purely as a favor, motivated by the promise of a free meal.
“He said, ‘Come with me because I don’t want to go alone,’ ” Sharma recalled in an interview at Lincoln Center shortly before the film premiered at the New York Film Festival in September. “I said, ‘Fine, as long as you buy me a sandwich afterwards.’ That sandwich got me ‘Pi.’ ”
Despite no prior acting experience or ambition, he managed to separate himself from 3,000 applicants and emerged through four rounds of auditions as the star in one of the most anticipated movies of the year.
For “Life of Pi” to work, Sharma – now 19, 17 when filming started – had to succeed. And many think the film, to be released Wednesday, not only works, but is a legitimate Oscar contender – a 3-D magic act from director Ang Lee that translates Yann Martel’s 2001 best seller into a colorful cinematic language.
It was a journey Sharma’s parents (both mathematicians) had some reluctance about, as it would mean missing a year of school. Lee argued a year spent working on “Life of Pi” would be more rewarding than a year of school. Sharma’s mother performed a ceremony that made Lee her son’s guru – a new role for the director.
Sharma is now in his first year at Delhi University, where he’s concentrating his studies on philosophy.
“I’m pretty sure I want to end up in the film industry,” he said.
Parker, Butler host Nobel concert
Sarah Jessica Parker and Gerard Butler are adding to the star wattage at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert.
The actors will be the hosts of the 19th annual event, to be held Dec. 11 in Oslo, Norway. Jennifer Hudson and Seal are among the performers.
The European Union captured the prize this year.
Past winners of the Nobel Peace Prize include Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, former Vice President Al Gore and President Barack Obama.
The birthday bunch
Singer Gordon Lightfoot is 74. Movie director Martin Scorsese is 70. Actress Lauren Hutton is 69. Actor-director Danny DeVito is 68. Actress Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is 54. Entertainer RuPaul is 52. Actor Dylan Walsh is 49. Actress Sophie Marceau is 46. Actress-model Daisy Fuentes is 46. Rhythm-and-blues singer Ronnie DeVoe (New Edition; Bell Biv DeVoe) is 45. Actor Leonard Roberts is 40. Actress Rachel McAdams is 34. Actor Justin Cooper is 24.
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