Patel is like 'giant golden retriever'
US actress Rooney Mara talks about how working on new film Lion, which is based on a true story, was a blast
New film Lion is about a five-year-old Indian boy, Saroo, who is separated from his family and survives on the mean streets of Kolkata till he is adopted by an Australian couple.
As an adult, Saroo embarks on a quest to find his biological family using Google Earth.
The tale is so incredible that US actress Rooney Mara "couldn't believe it was true".
But it is. She added: "It felt like it was made up as a Hollywood movie."
Dev Patel plays the older Saroo, Mara plays his girlfriend Lucy, and Nicole Kidman is his adoptive mum.
Sunny Pawar stands out as the little Saroo.
We are at the Fairmont Royal York hotel in Toronto, Canada, where the movie premiered at the film festival in September.
Mara, 31, is always self-contained, almost shy, and speaks very softly.
She was dressed in Louis Vuitton, casual black pants and a pleated white top, her hair pulled back tightly as usual.
Mara had read the script as a favour, never thinking she would take the part.
She said: "I was going to be taking time off. I was moving to a new house, I had plans to go to India for my 30th birthday, and so I was like, I will read it, but there is no way I am doing it."
After five minutes on the phone with director Garth Davis, she was sold because "so much of the material that I am drawn to and I like to work on is very different from this".
The one part of the film that is made up is her character.
"There wasn't really a Lucy," said the Oscar-nominated actress.
"That was the one character (where) they took liberties with the story. It was a compilation of several different people. But we did spend some time with the real family and had a barbecue and played cricket."
(Above, from left) Mara, Patel, Nicole Kidman and director Garth Davis.
The shoot was a happy one for her.
Mara said: "I loved working with Dev. He is like the giant golden retriever that you just can't help but smile when you are around him.
"I got to watch him transform into a man and it was really special to be able to watch that and to be there as a supporting person."
And Mara could not say enough good things about Kidman.
She said: "Nicole is so generous and beautiful. I have always looked up to her... She just feels like an 'old Hollywood' movie star.
"And on top of all her talent, she is just a real beautiful person and is so generous, supportive and sweet."
Mara has not made it to India yet, but wanted to talk about the movie's message - adoption.
Would she ever adopt?
She said: "Sure, anything is possible. I would definitely be open to that when I am ready to think about starting a family. I tried to get my parents to adopt when I was young.
"It's really easy to look at a place like India where the need is so great, so vast, so overwhelming and want to do good there, and that is one of the great things about the movie.
"But we have to look at our backyards and help those in our own communities."