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The true story of a life lost and found.

Rooney as: Lucy
Genre(s): Drama
Written by: Luke Davies (screenplay), Saroo Brierley (memoir)
Directed by: Garth Davis
Other Cast: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Sunny Pawar, David Wenham
Release Date: November 25, 2016
Production Budget: $12m
Total Worldwide Gross: $140.3m
Filming Locations: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia and Kolkata, West Bengal, India

  • In LION, five-year-old Saroo (Sunny Pawar) gets lost on a train traveling away from his home and family. Frightened and bewildered, he ends up thousands of miles away, in chaotic Kolkata. Somehow he survives living on the streets, escaping all sorts of terrors and close calls in the process, before ending up in an orphanage that is itself not exactly a safe haven. Eventually Saroo is adopted by an Australian couple (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham), and finds love and security as he grows up in Hobart. As an adult, not wanting to hurt his adoptive parents’ feelings, Saroo (Dev Patel) suppresses his past, his emotional need for reunification and his hope of ever finding his lost mother and brother. But a chance meeting with some fellow Indians reawakens his buried yearning. Armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and a revolutionary technology known as Google Earth, Saroo sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home.

    Production Info

  • The first scene Dev Patel filmed was the last scene of the film.
  • Dev Patel had to develop a new physique to portray Saroo and attended several hours in the gym in order inhabit his part. He also grew a beard and developed an Australian accent (with Tasmanian dialect), visited Saroo Brierley’s orphanage in India and wrote a diary while he took the original train ride that Brierley accidentally took as a young child. In total, he spent eight months preparing for the role.
  • Rooney Mara’s character is not based on a single real-life character, but is a combination of several of Saroo’s real-life girlfriends who were with him through his search.
  • At the Australian box office, it had the biggest ever opening weekend for an Australian independent film. Among all Australian films, it had the fifth highest opening of all time.
  • Nicole Kidman was handpicked by the real-life Sue Brierley for her part. Brierley suggested Kidman from the very first time the film adaptation was suggested to her and actually met with Kidman at her Sydney apartment to discuss the role. Both women forged a close bond in the course of their conversation after discovering that they were both deeply maternal and loved their adoptive and biological children in equal measures.
  • Based on Saroo Brierley’s memoir A Long Way Home, the true story of his own search for his childhood home. The film was originally set to feature the same title as the book on which it is based.
  • Google helped the production and gave the crew access to their satellite imagery to use in the film, providing them with versions of Google Earth from the correct time period, and providing a lot of technical support in order to shoot scenes featuring google in-camera, which saved the production a VFX budget.
  • Sunny Pawar’s film debut. He didn’t speak English when filming began and bonded with Nicole Kidman, his on-screen mother, by playing cricket with her – scenes which eventually made it into the film.
  • During rehearsals, Garth Davis made Dev Patel and Rooney Mara bond through creative exercises. The first was to draw a portrait of the other and to outline how they saw each other.
  • The real-life Brierley family was invited on set and visited the production that took place in Tasmania.
  • Marked Garth Davis’ directorial debut on a feature film.
  • Character Quotes

  • What if you do find home and they’re not even there? And you never stop and you just keep searching? You don’t know what happens over time. Things.. change. Entire worlds change.
  • Lucy: My mom died about, uh, four years ago now.
    Saroo: I’m sorry.
    Lucy: My dad is just still so angry at her. I mean, not for getting sick, obviously, but just for refusing chemo. But she just knew herself, you know? She knew what her terms were, and she knew how she wanted to live, so… He just couldn’t accept that, I guess.
    Saroo: And how do you feel?
    Lucy: I just miss her.
  • Mantosh: What have I missed?
    Saroo: Nothing.
    Mantosh: [Gesturing to Lucy] She looks upset.
    Saroo: She’s not upset.
    Lucy: You don’t know how I feel.
  • Lucy: [Grabs Saroo’s face] Hey, look at me. Look at me.
    Saroo: Can this wait?
    Lucy: Where are you?
    Saroo: Let’s go. Can this wait till we get home, yeah?
    Lucy: Home?
    Saroo: Hey.
    Lucy: What home? You mean where I’m alone in one room and you’re alone in the other room? Come on.
  • Saroo: Do you have any idea what it’s like knowing my real brother and mother spend every day of their lives looking for me?
    Lucy: What?
    Saroo: Huh? How every day my real brother screams my name? Can you imagine the pain they must be in not knowing where I am? 25 years, Luce. 25!
    Lucy: Why didn’t you tell me that was happening for you?
    Saroo: We swum about in our privileged lives. It makes me sick. I have to find home. They need to know I’m okay.
    Lucy: I have never stopped you. I want to help.
    Saroo: I can’t do this anymore. You deserve more.
    Lucy: Don’t you do that. Don’t you dare do that. This is on you, not on me.
  • Lucy: I saw your mom. She’s not doing very well.
    Saroo: I’m worried it’ll kill her if she knew I was searching.
    Lucy: You underestimate her. She needs you.
  • Quoting: Rooney Mara

    On her attraction to the role: It was the story and script which attracted me. I wasn’t planning on working at that time but it was such a beautiful story I really wanted to be a part of it. When I spoke to Garth I felt connected with him and I really wanted to work with him.

    On the film’s broad appeal: It’s a global story. I think this film has the ability to touch so many people from so many parts of the world.

    On working with Dev Patel: Working with Dev has been amazing. He’s transformed so much through this film, physically and also emotionally. I’ve really loved working with him.

    On working with Garth Davis: He always calls after a big day to thank you and tell you what a good job you did, and he’s just so loving.

    Quoting: Cast and Crew

    Director Garth Davis: All the mystery of the story just sat on her face… when she’s quiet, it’s loud; it’s really noisy with all the subtext just ripp ing up to the surface. It’s quite extraordinary. I didn’t realize just how impactful that was going to be, because a lot of the stuff happening between Lucy and Saroo is unspoken. But Rooney’s an actress who manages, without saying any thing, to just bring all that out. It was kind of unbelievable to watch.

    Producer Emile Sherman: Lucy is critical to the story. She’s everything that Saroo wants in his present. But his journey pulls him away from her as he becomes more and more isolated by his search for home and by the past. Lucy of course wants to support and help him but his journey becomes all consuming and incredibly isolating. This pull between the present – his love for Lucy – and the past – his memories and pull to his birth mother – is at the centre of Saroo’s drama. Rooney brings huge tenderness to the role and the scenes of Saroo and Lucy meeting and falling in love are so alive and touching.

    Co-star Dev Patel: Rooney is amazing. Her face is so watchable; you’ll forget your lines when you’re in front of her. She’s got this fierce quietness about her, and I’m like this big, dopey Labrador running around. So those two kinds of energies together were very interesting.

    Critical Response

    Jordan Hoffman, New York Daily News: This amazing true story with remarkable performances by Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman and newcomer Sunny Pawar has, like the title would suggest, a blend of brute force and elegance.

    Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times: While the first half of “Lion” is a sprawling, often intense story of a lost little boy on the move and in search of his home, the second half is a much smaller but equally intense mystery and character study, with Saroo shutting out his parents and his supportive girlfriend (Rooney Mara, terrific as usual), losing his professional ambition and cloistering himself with his laptop and his charts and his notes, as pushes himself to remember, remember, remember ANYTHING that can take him one step closer to home.

    Brian Truitt, USA Today: Mara is solid in portraying her part in Lucy and Saroo’s complicated romance, and Kidman is great as a mom who maintains a strong devotion to Saroo from their first meeting.