“Slumdog Millionaire” star Dev Patel has joined the cast of M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Last Airbender.” Patel will be featured alongside newcomer Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, Jackson Rathbone and Jessica Jade Andres. Production begins in mid-March in Greenland.

Patel is taking over the role of the film’s main antagonist, Zuko, from Jesse McCartney. It seems that he had some tour dates that got in the way.

Noah Ringer will play Aang, the last of a race of people who can manipulate the elements of air. He won the role after demonstrating his martial arts skills in an Internet vid that he posted to a website Shyamalan set up for open virtual auditions.

Paramount is set to release “Airbender on July 2, 2010 and Shyamalan said he is planning a three-picture story arc.

I’m not sure if Jesse really quit or was cut due to fan backlash about the cast being all white when everyone in the story is either Asian or Indian. We know Patel can act. He was great in Slumdog and in Skins.

The real question is whether he can pull of the part and handle all the special effects and martial arts work.

Source: variety