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SYFY WIRE Monkey Man

Dev Patel Broke His Hand Filming Monkey Man and Just Kept Fighting - Watch Action Scene

Monkey Man was a rough shooting experience in many ways for first-time director Dev Patel.

By Matthew Jackson
Dev Patel gazes through purple curtains in Monkey Man (2024).

Multi-hyphenate Dev Patel fights a lot in Monkey Man, and he brought it all on himself. The star of the new film from Universal Pictures and Jordan Peele's Monkeypaw Productions is also the co-writer and the director of the action epic, which means he knew exactly what he was getting into when he took the role. What he didn't know was how many things could go wrong.

Earlier this week, at the Q&A following the world premiere screening of the film at SXSW, Patel revealed a number of major mishaps that could have derailed the production at various points. The crew dealt with budget issues and broken camera equipment, while Patel faced broken toes, a torn shoulder, and a broken hand, right in the middle of shooting one of the film's key fight sequences.

For More on Monkey Man and Moneypaw:
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Dev Patel Broke Multiple Bones While Film Monkey Man

Dev Patel's shadow is cast on artwork in Monkey Man (2024).

“I was thinking, here we go again, production is going to go down. I was on the internet because I couldn’t wear a cast for long because we didn’t have the budget to paint it out,” Patel recalled, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

So, instead of wearing a cast on the hand, Patel found a doctor who could quickly repair the break surgically by inserting a screw into the actor's hand bones. It meant his hand would look relatively normal without the aid of a cast, but it also meant having to re-learn all of the fight choreography for the scene so he could do it with his one good hand.

“The doctor said, ‘You cannot put any pressure on it. You will ruin your hand,'" Patel recalled. "I said, ‘Got it, copy’ and went straight back into the action scene.” 

To get just a taste of the kinds of action scenes we're talking about, check out this recently released clip from the film, in which Patel's character, Kid, fights his way through a nightclub kitchen packed with guards. 

Struggling through mishaps was a key theme in the production of Monkey Man, so much so that even after filming was complete, Patel was afraid his directorial debut wouldn't be able to find theatrical distribution. It seemed dead in the water, bound for a streaming release if it got a release at all, until Peele came along. Both before and after the SXSW screening, Patel credited the producer with saving his movie, while Peele heaped praise on Patel for his dedication.

“No one has put their soul, energy, mind, body into a film [like] this man," Peele said. "And he has done it for us to enjoy this film.”

Monkey Man is in theaters April 5. Get tickets now at Fandango.