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'If I Go Down, The Film Goes Down:' Dev Patel Tells The Brutal Story Behind The Time He Broke His Hand While Making Monkey Man

 Dev Patel holding a gun with watery eyes in Monkey Man.
Dev Patel holding a gun with watery eyes in Monkey Man.

With action reminiscent of the John Wick movies, and behind-the-scenes stories that are truly jaw-dropping, there’s no question that Dev Patel went through the wringer to make his movie Monkey Man. As the star, director, co-writer and producer on the project, he really put his mind, body and soul into this action flick on the 2024 movie schedule, and now he’s telling the brutal story about how he broke his hand while filming the project.

Before they started shooting the movie, Patel broke his toes, per Digital Spy, and then as they were filming, he broke his hand. So, the phrase putting your blood, sweat and tears into something likely resonates with Dev Patel’s directorial debut Monkey Man. And it’s about to hit even harder as you hear the director/star tell the story of how he broke his hand. Speaking with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, he said:

Everything could have gone wrong went wrong. The first action scene I’m basically, I’m a crash test dummy that my co-star is using my face to break every piece of porcelain in this bathroom, and my hand, I heard it snap. I was like ‘This is not good.’

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For context, Patel explained that he’s been working on this movie for over ten years, he’s had to turn down roles he always dreamed of taking to make this, and he’s overcome a ton of challenges to get it made. He was not about to let an injury stop him, and he explained that to Fallon, saying:

And I knew, you know, you’ve got 450 people on an island, and if I go down, the film goes down. You know, we had a purpose during a really prickly time in history. And I told my producer I was like ‘Don’t say anything. Let’s just keep filming.’ By the end of the day my hand was like an elephant’s foot. And we couldn’t afford to put a cast on and VFX it out of this movie.

Adding insult to injury, this was not the only issue Patel was facing. They made this movie during the pandemic and they had to deal with multiple budget issues. This led to them having to film an action scene with his iPhone because a camera broke, and they had to glue breakaway tables back together themselves. Along the same lines, when he broke his hand, the Slumdog Millionaire star had to get creative about how he treated it, saying:

So we found a way to get around the system by getting this cheap medical private jet to keep the COVID bubble, and we flew to Jakarta that night. The doctor put a screw in my hand, and he goes ‘You cannot put more than a pound or two of pressure on this thing. Otherwise, it’s like pulling a bent nail out of wood. You will ruin your bone.’

As they made the movie, the crew dubbed the screw in Patel’s hand as “the one screw that kept the production alive,” because after he got it, the actor/director went right back to work:

Actually, I went straight back to set the next day and was throwing myself and bouncing off a window.

While this injury could have ended the production, Patel pushed through the pain, literally. The crew was so grateful that they even made t-shirts with his hand X-ray on them to show their appreciation.

All that hard work really paid off. Critics spoke highly of Monkey Man, and it seems like this project is poised to become one of Dev Patel’s best films, and who knows, maybe it’ll turn into one of the best action movies too. To see the actor in action, and how all his hard work and injuries paid off, you can catch Monkey Man in theaters starting on April 5.