Saroo and Sue Brierley on Adoption, Syrian… by Uinterview

Saroo Brierley, an Indian-born businessman who was separated at age 5 from his birth mother, was later adopted by an Australian couple, Sue Brierley and her husband. He wasn’t reunited with his birth mother until 25 years later. The tale of his arduous journey to search for his birth mother sparked significant media attention, and spurred an autobiographical account of his experiences, titled A Long Way Home. In 2016, his story was adapted to film, in the Oscar-nominated film Lion.

Saroo and Sue Brierley Exclusive Interview

In an exclusive interview, Saroo and Sue Brierley reveal to us their thoughts of the film, and how it relates to the current refugee crisis.

In Lion, Saroo Brierley’s character is played by Dev Patel, and Sue Brierley is portrayed by Nicole Kidman. Saroo gave a glowing review of Patel’s performance.

“Dev has done an amazing job,” Saroo told uInterview. “He spent eight months without wanting any other word from his managers. He just wanted to concentrate on number one, just nailing the Australian accent, and then just portraying myself. It’s hard work, and he certainly has put in all the effort and miles into portraying and embodying myself.”

Similarly, Sue only had words of praise to say about Kidman.

“It was just amazing. She went into a lot of effort to learn about me, she had her colleague come and tape and record me for days so she could practice my accent and get to know my thoughts on particular issues,” Sue said approvingly.

“We met a few times, and just went on one, and she certainly went in with every fiber of her being. And we did certainly have a real soul connection. Because her adopting his will, and so every time she was portraying me, she really I think was being me. And she’s an incredible actress, and I love her dearly, she’s just the most amazing woman,” continued Sue.

The themes in Lion resonate with current events today, especially the refugee crisis.

“I’m hoping and trusting that this movie takes people to a very deep place, and they think a lot more about issues like adoption,” Sue said. “There’s millions of children sitting, unaccompanied, in camps all across the middle east, because of war, with no hope of a future. And to me, they are the first choice refugees.”


Q: How did Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman do portraying your lives? -

Saroo: Well, Dev has done an amazing job. He spent eight months without wanting any other word from his managers. He just wanted to concentrate on number one, just nailing the Australian accent, and then just portraying myself. It's hard work, and he certainly has put in all the effort and miles into portraying and embodying myself. And you can see that evidently when you watch the movie.

Sue: I was just totally wrapped that Nicole sought the role of Sue Brierley in this incredible film, and just jumped into it wholeheartedly. It was just amazing. She went into a lot of effort to learn about me, she had her colleague come and tape and record me for days so she could practice my accent and get to know my thoughts on particular issues. We met a few times, and just went on one, and she certainly went in with every fiber of her being. And we did certainly have a real soul connection. Because her adopting his will, and so every time she was portraying me, she really I think was being me. And she's an incredible actress, and I love her dearly, she's just the most amazing woman.

Q: How does your story connect to today's refugee crisis? -

Sue: I'm hoping and trusting that this movie takes people to a very deep place, and they think a lot more about issues like adoption, that they maybe considered for their own family formation, and they just remember that there's millions of children sitting, unaccompanied, in camps all across the middle east, because of war, with no hope of a future. And to me, they are the first choice refugees. That while their children are sitting there, and we're not stepping up and saying, we'll take these children and help them, I just feel very sad about that situation, that we've sort of got our focus in a different kind of refugee, but the children are the first refugees for me.

Q: How is your relationship today? -

Sue: It was a bit challenging because we, John and I, weren't aware of Saroo searching so intensely. We knew he was not living at home at the time, he was in a relationship. We thought, why is he late for work all the time, what's going on here? We just didn't really understand what was going on. He was a grown man living his life. In actual fact, if we'd known what he was doing, we certainly would've jumped in and helped. But we understand also that this is a personal journey, and we've taken our personal journey without any interference, and I respect Saroo deciding to take his own way at that time. So there's no bitterness there at all. I think Nicole portrays that when we finally get to see what Saroo had been up to all that time. Also, for me, it seemed that he was enough of a man that he had that strength and character that he could do this on his own. And to me, that's really important, when you have a child, to see them grow up, and be so empowered that they can do something like this, with such commitment over the years. It's pretty incredible, and I love him for it.