Slumdog Millionaire protagonist Dev Patel will replace Jesse McCartney as the villain Prince Zuko in M. Night Shyamalan’s live-action kid flick The Last Airbender, a feature adaptation of the popular Nickelodeon kid series, according to an article published on Variety’s website Sunday night. What the story left out is that Shyamalan and Paramount Pictures have been under fire for their initial all-white casting choices that EW announced in this blog back in December. That post resulted in more than 1,000 complaints that the filmmakers were completely ignoring the television show’s origins, which are heavily steeped in Asian cultures. Maybe Paramount got the message. A source tells EW.com that McCartney (pictured, left) left after rehearsals had already started. His rep says he had scheduling conflicts with his music tour. The source adds that McCartney still received his full fee for only a few weeks of pre-production work. Shyamalan begins shooting in mid-March with Patel as his bad guy and Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, Jackson Rathbone (Twilight), and Jessica Jade Anders filling out the roles of the four protagonists. Whether the Patel casting decision will satisfy the legions of angry fans is anyone’s guess, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.
addCredit(“McCartney: Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic; Patel: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images”)