With only a week to go before the Oscars, best supporting actor nominee Dev Patel says he is ready for the big night, if not a little bit nervous.
“There’s not much more preparation to do at this point. Now, it’s up to the film gods and we are just really enjoying this time,” Patel, 26, tells PEOPLE. “But whenever I think it’s just a week away, my heart rate rises a little bit.”
Win or loose on Feb. 26, Patel says he is just happy word is spreading about his film Lion, a true story about an Indian boy who gets adopted by an Australian couple after becoming separated from his biological family. When the boy grows up, he uses a new tool, Google Earth, to track down his long-lost family.
“Just to be spreading the message of love, unity, adoption and family is something I am proud to be a part of,” says Patel, who has seen first-hand the positive effect the film is having on audiences. “A woman came up to me after a screening and said she had been on the fence about wanting to adopt, but after watching the film she said it gave her the courage to do so and she now felt it was her calling. The film is changing lives.”
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To prepare for the role, Patel transformed his look by growing out his hair and working out every day to bulk up, but says he still blushes when anyone refers to him as a sex symbol.
“Whenever someone gives me a compliment about how I look, I start to malfunction,” he says.
And the lucky lady by his side on Oscar night will be his mother, Anita Patel.
“As a child you may say to your parents, ‘One day I am going to take you to the Oscars.’ But for that to actually materialize into a truth is quite amazing,” he says.
The British actor recently returned from London where he celebrated his nomination with his parents, sister and friends and says on Oscar night he is looking forward to seeing the film’s director, Garth Davis, and his costar, Nicole Kidman, who plays his adoptive mother in the film.
“The fact that our little movie, that we shot in the middle of nowhere, has made it to the Oscar stage is reason enough for us to be really happy,” says Patel. “This has been the most beautiful journey.”
The Academy Awards kicks off live on ABC on Sunday, Feb. 26, with a 7 p.m. ET preshow and 8:30 p.m. ceremony.