Dev Patel broke his hand on the “Monkey Man” set, and all he got was a T-shirt of his X-ray

"Everything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong."

<p>Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images</p>

Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

'Monkey Man' star Dev Patel

Dev Patel faced daunting challenges while shooting his new film, Monkey Man, on a tiny Indonesian island during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. A strict quarantine bubble. Broken cameras that couldn’t be replaced. Funding that could disappear at any moment... But at least he walked away with a finished movie — and a cool T-shirt.

“Everything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong,” the 33-year-old actor told Jimmy Fallon Friday on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. That included him breaking his hand on set, which led to some hasty troubleshooting and that memorable production souvenir.

"Actually, I went straight back to set the next day, and was throwing myself and bouncing off a window," Patel recalled. "And the crew, they made a T-shirt."

Pulling out a bright blue tee with the X-ray of his busted mitt printed on the sleeve, he joked, "They call it 'the one screw that kept this production alive.'" In addition to an up-close look at the screw holding Patel's fifth metacarpal in place and allowed filming to continue, the shirt had a bubble printed on the front to represent the movie's COVID quarantine and a cartoon monkey — a nod to the movie — gracing the back.

<p>Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images</p> Dev Patel

Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Dev Patel

Patel, who gave Fallon a T-shirt of his own, told the host that he heard a snap while shooting the first action scene of the movie and immediately started to worry.

“I was like, ‘This is not good,’” the Slumdog Millionaire star recalled. “‘If I go down, the film goes down.’”

The strict COVID protocols had already made it difficult for cast and crew to seek medical treatment, and on top of that, the production wouldn't be able to afford the VFX to digitally remove a cast from Patel's hand in every scene. So the actor swore his producer to secrecy and finished shooting the scene, in which his scene partner used his body as a crash-test dummy and his face “to break every piece of porcelain in this bathroom” where they were filming.

“By the end of the day, my hand was like an elephant’s foot,” Patel said. So he snuck onto a cheap private medical jet that took him to the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, where he begged a doctor for an invisible fix.

The man complied, putting a screw into Patel’s hand to stabilize the bone and warning him not to put more than a pound or two of pressure on it. “'Otherwise it’s like pulling a bent nail out of wood,'” Patel said, recalling what the doctor told him. “'You will ruin your bone.'”

Patel listened carefully, then went back to the island, where he was isolated with 450 of his cast and crew mates, and got back to work the next day, shooting another fight scene.

<p>YouTube/NBC</p> Dev Patel hands Jimmy Fallon a T-shirt with an X-ray of his broken hand


Dev Patel hands Jimmy Fallon a T-shirt with an X-ray of his broken hand

Patel's directorial feature debut, Monkey Man is inspired by the legend of Hindu deity Hanuman, who embodies strength and courage. “If you go to an Indian gym, you’ll see [posters of] Arnold Schwarzenegger, the bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman, and Hanuman,” Patel joked. 

Patel plays Kid, whose quest for vengeance over the death of his mother and the corruption around him imbues him with the power to settle scores — violently. Jordan Peele signed on to produce the film, guaranteeing its theatrical run.

Monkey Man opens April 5. Watch Patel talk about breaking his hand on set and give Fallon his own commemorative X-ray T-shirt below.

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