Lion star talks of working with Nicole Kidman and Dev Patel in Oscars contender

PUBLISHED: 08:00 09 February 2017

Divian Ladwa and cast of Lion. Picture: Long Way Home Productions

Divian Ladwa and cast of Lion. Picture: Long Way Home Productions


Divian Ladwa plays Dev Patel’s adopted brother Mantosh, and talks to Zoe Paskett about the importance of the film for the sake of hope in difficult times

Cast and crew of Lion at BFI London Film Festival. Picture: John Phillips/Getty ImagesCast and crew of Lion at BFI London Film Festival. Picture: John Phillips/Getty Images

The true story of a little boy who loses his family is to blame for the buckets of tears amassing at cinemas around the world.

Lion tells of five-year-old Saroo who gets lost on a train and finds himself thousands of miles away only to retrace his memories 25 years later. He had been adopted by an Australian couple and moved to Tasmania to live with them and their other son, Mantosh, who they adopted soon after. Divian Ladwa scored the role of Mantosh.

“I always knew it would do well,” says Ladwa who grew up in Golders Green and still lives there. “When I first read the script, I just knew straight away that this was something different. It’s such an incredible story. I think it deserves the recognition that it got.”

With six Oscar, four Golden Globe and five BAFTA nominations, it certainly has.

Divian Ladwa with cast and real life counterparts in AustraliaDivian Ladwa with cast and real life counterparts in Australia

“It was amazing because it was so family orientated and I think the director [Garth Davis] had made that his mission. Dev and I, we were the first to get to Australia and the first thing we did was to go to the director’s family house and hang out.

“When David Wenham and Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara all turned up there was this big get together and the real family came down. It’s not like a normal thing where you just turn up on set and do your bit. We spent as much time together as time would allow.”

Most of Divian’s acting career has existed within stage work, but he counts getting his role in Mackenzie Crook’s Detectorists as a “blessing”. Also starring Toby Jones, the BAFTA award winning sitcom, gave him some preparation for the silver screen.

“If you’re not used to being on set with so many big names it can he quite daunting,” he says. “I filmed Lion right between the two seasons. I spoke to Mackenzie when I got the part in Lion. I was like, this is quite a big jump here. He went from The Office to doing things like Pirates of the Caribbean. Regardless of how huge The Office was, it’s still quite a leap going from a low budget comedy to a $200m film.”

Divian Ladwa in Lion. Picture: Long Way Home ProductionsDivian Ladwa in Lion. Picture: Long Way Home Productions

Despite his nerves, Divian held his own in a production filled with acting “juggernauts”.

The first time Divian saw the full feature was at Toronto Film Festival, where they received a 10 minute long standing ovation from the audience.

“I think it’s really important that people see something like this for the sake of the hope. Before it was released here, you’d get people from Israel, Spain, Italy, Sweden that have already seen it in their own countries who just want to tell me how moved they are and how much of a positive influence it has. I think we need that at the moment.”

Lion is in cinemas now.

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