Wall Street Journal Movie Critic Mistakes Dev Patel for Kal Penn

Ramin Setoodeh
Variety

Updated 1:10 p.m. ET: Since the time of publication, the Wall Street Journal has issued a correction on the online review of “Lion” that reads, “An earlier version of this article misidentified Dev Patel as appearing in Mira Nair’s ‘The Namesake.'”

Original: Wall Street Journal film critic Joe Morgenstern made an embarrassing error in a review for the movie “Lion” in Friday’s newspaper, when he confused Dev Patel with Kal Penn.

Both actors are of Indian descent, but their careers have been very different. Patel, 26, who plays Saroo Brierley in “Lion,” is British, while Penn, 39, was born in New Jersey.

In his review, Morgenstern says that “Lion” is Patel’s “richest performance” since 2006’s “The Namesake.” But Patel, the star of “Slumdog Millionaire,” wasn’t in that film directed by Mira Nair. The part was played by Penn, whose other credits include the “Harold and Kumar” movies, “House” and “How I Met Your Mother.”

The mistake drew outrage on social media, including a tweet that was retweeted by Penn, asking if Morgenstern meant “the other brown actor.”


Morgenstern, who won the Pulitzer Prize in film criticism in 2005, called the mix up a “dumb error” on Twitter. His review was posted on Wednesday afternoon online. At the time this article was published, the Journal hadn’t corrected the mistake in the digital version of the story, which still says Patel was in “The Namesake.”

A representative from the Wall Street Journal did not respond to Variety for comment.

Patel is in the running for Oscar consideration in the best-supporting actor race for “Lion,” which opens in limited release this weekend from the Weinstein Co. For two consecutive years, the Motion Picture Academy has come under fire for nominating all white actors in its four acting categories.

But awards pundits believe this year could mark the end to #OscarsSoWhite. In addition to Patel, there’s also been strong Oscar buzz for Denzel Washington and Viola Davis (“Fences”), Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”) and Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”).

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