Dileep A. Rao is an American actor who has appeared in feature films and television series. He starred in Sam Raimi's horror film "Drag Me to Hell," James Cameron's science fiction film "Avatar" and Christopher Nolan's thriller "Inception." He will also be appearing in the forthcoming "The Tight Man's Burden."
Rao was born in Los Angeles to a physicist mother and an engineer father, both of Indian descent. He grew up in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, Denver, Colorado and Claremont, California. He graduated from Claremont High School and the University of California, San Diego, with a B.A., later receiving an M.F.A. from the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco where his class included Anna Belknap and Elizabeth Banks.
Rao's first role after graduating was in the American premiere of Indian Ink by Tom Stoppard. Rao moved to Los Angeles and began working in regional theater including at the Berkeley Rep, South Coast Repertory and for the Manhattan Theater Club.
He competed on Jeopardy! on June 7, 2002, and won $34,400. On June 8, 2008, Rao was randomly selected from over 1,600 entrants to play the NPR Weekend Edition Sunday puzzle on air with Will Shortz.
In 2009 he appeared in "Avatar" and "Drag Me to Hell." He was nominated for several awards as part of the ensemble cast in Christopher Nolan's 2010 film "Inception." He played a pharmacologist in the film.
As of February 22, 2011, the average U.S. domestic box office of Dileep Rao's movies was over $363 million and $1.2 billion worldwide. This is an extremely high average, especially for an actor who has appeared in multiple movies. Among actors tracked by Box Office Mojo, the highest average for an entertainment figure with multiple movies is Emma Watson with an average of $252 million. Lee Unkrich is reported with an "average" of over $400 million, but this is from a voice appearance in a single film
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