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Adoption movie is 'personal' for Kidman

AAP logoAAP 19/12/2016 Danielle McGrane

Nicole Kidman's role in Lion was "in her DNA", according to her co-star Dev Patel.

The British-Indian actor who shot to fame in the 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire plays Kidman's adopted son Saroo Brierley in the film, which is based on his true search for his biological family in India.

For Patel, acting alongside the Oscar-winner was a special experience and one that had personal resonance for Kidman who has two adopted children with Tom Cruise.

"It was just a complete dream really. She's so graceful, and her role, she's a mother with adopted children, so I'd been prepping for a long time but you could say this had been in her DNA for all her life in a way. So it's very personal," Patel told AAP in Sydney.

For Patel, his role also carries significance. It was a part he desperately wanted, a role that would exalt him from the enthusiastic and sometimes comedic roles he had played before including in Slumdog and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Lion is based on the book by Saroo Brierley, charting his extraordinary true life story of becoming lost as a child in India and subsequently being adopted by an Australian couple and brought to Tasmania at the age of five. In later life, he used Google Earth to track down his biological family.

For the first half of the film, Brierley is played by a young Indian actor, eight-year-old Sunny Pawar before Patel takes over the adult role.

Patel worked with a dialect coach for eight months to perfect Brierley's Australian accent. But all the preparation in the world can't help when faced with the person he was playing on screen.

"We'd shot my first scene, which was the last scene of the film, before I even got to meet Saroo so we had that in the can. So when we went to Australia to begin the whole journey I was petrified. I was like 'I hope he accepts me, I hope he likes me because there's no going back from here'," he said.

"But we really got along, he's got a tremendous sense of humour. He's the reason we're all here."

*Lion premieres in Australia at Sydney's State Theatre on Monday and opens in Australian cinemas on January 19

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