‘I KNOW HOW ALL OF HENRY VIII’S WIVES DIED, BUT WE’RE TAUGHT NOTHING ABOUT THE EAST INDIA COMPANY’

Nikesh Patel swapped journalism for acting, though his mission remains the same — to tell a multitude of stories. He talks to The Rake about his HBO rom-com, Starstruck, and the progress of British Asian representation on screen.

  • fashion director Veronica Perez

  • by Chris Cotonou

  • photography Matthew Eades

Beige silk-cashmere-cotton blend double-breasted jacket and mint cotton knit crewneck sweater, both Canali; cream cotton pleated Aleksandar sport trouser, Kit Blake at The Rake; multicolour print silk pocket-square, Rubinacci

Nikesh Patel recalls one of the moments that inspired him to become an actor. It was during a play at his school in London. While sitting in the audience, he was surprised to see a pupil several years his junior appear on stage. “It was a Sri Lankan kid from a few years below,” he says two decades later. “I looked at him and thought, What’s Krishnan doing there? But even that small moment, seeing someone on stage who looked like me, made a big difference in becoming an actor.”

Since that light-switch moment, Nikesh has gone on to have quite the career. He is a thespian sort who leans more into theatrical work, a self-professed Shakespeare nerd, and now a common face on British television screens (he’s also rather popular with female viewers, for some reason). During our discussion, Nikesh shared his desire to see more Asian British representation on our screens. He has just finished making the HBO rom-com series Starstruck, in which he plays a dashing actor, Tom Kapoor, who falls for a woman in London. Try to park those Notting Hill comparisons, though, as this is different. “Simply me being in the lead romance is subverting expectations,” he says.

Having also starred in the remake of Four Weddings and a Funeral, he is clearly on speed-dial for ‘British Romantic Lead’. But he still manages to fit in experimental theatrical projects, such as Good Grief, a wonderful film-theatre hybrid that was released in April. Nikesh Patel’s mission is to tell stories. Here, we share his.

Published

August 2021

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