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Dev Patel also told E! News that there was "a lot of reservations" about him taking on the lead role in Lion

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January 29, 2017 07:34 PM

For Dev Patel, meeting his onscreen mother for the first time was totally nerve-wracking — but his uneasiness didn’t last long.

“I was really intimidated to begin with,” Patel told E! News on the red carpet at the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards, regarding costar Nicole Kidman. “I was very nervous and then they kind of just invited me into a room and I didn’t even know that she was going to be there and she was just sitting there at the table with the director.”

Lion is the emotional true story of Saroo Brierly, who was adopted from India as a child after getting lost on the dangerous streets of Calcutta. Kidman portrays one-half of the Australian family who took young Saroo in.

“Straight away, we fell into our roles,” Patel noted. “She’s a real mother with adopted children.”

Patel says the movie “really changed my life” – especially since it earned him a Best Supporting Actor nomination at next month’s Academy Awards.

  • PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly are hosting the official live pre-show for the SAG Awards on Sunday, Jan. 29, in partnership with TNT and sponsored by Dunkin’ Donuts. Our red carpet special will start livestreaming at 5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 PT on PEOPLE.com, EW.com and thePeople/Entertainment Weekly Network (download the PEN app for your TV or phone). You can also watch it live on Twitter — follow us @PEOPLE!

“It still hasn’t fully sunk in,” he admitted. “I am overwhelmingly just grateful and freaked out, equally.”

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Patel is also grateful for the recognition because he had to fight for the role: “There was a lot of reservations about me being the guy from [Slumdog Millionaire].”

The actor’s initial rise to stardom came after the 2008 film premiered and became an awards juggernaut.

“They were like ‘We’ve seen that, we need someone fresh and new and hungry,’ ” he explained, noting that he had to “fight against this preconceived notion that everyone had in the room – which made me want it even more.”

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