‘Lion’ Star Dev Patel On Working With Nicole Kidman: ‘I’d Been Prepping For Eight Months’

One might be misled by the film’s title, but Lion is about family and finding one’s place in the world, telling the true story of Saroo Brierley (Dev Patel), his love for his adoptive mother (Nicole Kidman), and his search for his biological family. It’s an emotional drama that captured Patel’s imagination from the very first time he read the novel and encouraged him to throw himself into the lead role. As Lion hits theaters this weekend, Dev Patel recounts how he came to star in Lion and what it was like to meet and work with Nicole Kidman.

Even After A Lifetime, The Story Of Lion Still Hasn’t Lost Its Edge

As Vanity Fair reports, Lion is the true story of Saroo Brierley, who lived with his family in Ganesh Talai, India, until he happened to become separated from his brother at the age of five. Desperate to reunite with his family, Saroo boarded a train, thinking the route would take him back home. By the time the young boy realized his error, he was even farther from home and hopelessly lost. Eventually, he ended up in an orphanage and was later adopted by an Australian couple.

Brierley, who is played by Patel in Lion, grew up with his adoptive family, but never forgot his biological family and never lost hope of reuniting with them. Once he was older, Saroo used evolving technology to locate his home village, and from there, he found his family.

It was an emotional experience, heartbreaking at times and heartwarming at other times, but, after so many years had passed, Brierley thought his story had lost some of its impact on his heart. He was mistaken.

“I thought I would be quite fully desensitized… but I’m not,” Brierley told Vanity Fair. “It just pulls me back in. Everyone has this sort of crescendo, where [they] fall in tears. I just end up doing the same thing.”

Lion Brought Dev Patel Together With One Of His Idols

In his interview with Vulture, Dev Patel opens up about what it has been like to work with Nicole Kidman, one of the most respected and adored actresses of the modern era, and his response is just what one might expect. Patel says that, even before he met Kidman for the first time, he knew she was going to be a “very sweet and gracious” person, just because she gives off strong vibes that indicates her down to earth nature.

“Once I got over the nerves of meeting Nicole Kidman. I saw how she really put in everything in the role. I’d been prepping for eight months, but she’d prepping for most of her life in a way because she is a mother with adopted kids,” says Dev. “There was a real truth there. It was beautiful being in such an intimate performance space with her.”

Lion, like many films, was shot out of sequence, so the first scene Patel shot was the climax, when Brierley is reunited with his biological mother. Dev says that scene was his most difficult to perform, from an emotional perspective, and even his first meeting with the real Saroo Brierley was far more relaxed. In fact, Patel says meeting the real-life subject of Lion wasn’t at all unnerving.

“Then we began the Australian portion of the film — that’s when I got to meet Saroo as that’s where he still lives with his family,” says Patel. “But it felt like I’d known him for almost a year, which is how much time I’d spent preparing; watching all the videos I could, absorbing all of his interviews and his talks. We immediately clicked over a really nice breakfast.”

Lion, starring Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, and Dev Patel, is currently showing in theaters.

[Featured Image by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images]

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