Dev Patel Says Nicole Kidman's 'Lion' Role Was a Natural Fit Because She's an Adoptive Mom

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

The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Red Carpet
Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

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.

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“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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