For his first film, Garth Davis embraced the odyssey of 'Lion'
Filmmaker Garth Davis spent years making commercials in Australia before co-directing Top of the Lake with Jane Campion. For his feature film debut, Lion, he's taken on the true story of a boy in India who accidentally gets separated from his family and ends up in Tasmania. He tells us how he came to be at the helm of the film and about casting a five-year old in India and teaching him English along the way.
Even before director Garth Davis had a finished script for the new film Lion -- based on the true story of a man who searches for his long lost family in India -- he heard from Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel, who really wanted to play the lead. But Davis needed to be convinced. He tells us about putting Patel and other actors through their paces, and about seeing thousands of Indian schoolchildren before finding the five-year old who would play the younger version of Patel's character.
Photo: Director Garth Davis on the set of Lion. (Mark Rogers)
Matt Belloni, executive editor of the Hollywood Reporter joins Kim Masters for an update on the awards race, with a look at why personal issues from the past plague some directors and actors (Nate Parker), but others (Mel Gibson, Casey Affleck, Woody Allen) seem to be able to endure and keep working, especially as time passes.
The new movie Lion tells the true story of Saroo Brierley, who as a young boy in India was accidentally separated from his family and goes on an epic journey.
As the film begins, we meet five-year-old Saroo, played by Sunny Pawar. Lost at a train station and unable to find his way home, Saroo eventually ends up in Tasmania, adopted by a couple played by David Wenham and Nicole Kidman.
Years later, that boy, now a man played by Dev Patel, resumes the search for the family he lost in india.
Director Garth Davis was at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013 when he first heard Brierley's story from See-Saw producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman. Davis, who had built a career directing commercials in Australia, had just directed Top of the Lake, his first scripted TV miniseries, alongside Filmmaker Jane Campion. Lion would be his first feature film.
Davis tells us how he and his producers secured the rights to Brierley's story even though they were late to the chase and many other filmmakers were interested, and why he knew in his heart that he was the right person to tell this story.
He also explains why he felt it was crucial to tell the story in a linear fashion with no flashbacks, even if that meant the first half of the film would be mostly in Hindi and rely heavily on a five-year-old Indian child. Davis knew that as difficult as it was to find the older Saroo, it was the young Saroo who would pose greatest casting challenge of all--and indeed, Davis saw thousands of Indian schoolchildren before landing on Sunny Pawar.
Davis also tells us what's next for him -- he just wrapped shooting a movie about a Mary Magdalene, starring Rooney Mara, who also appears in Lion as the older Saroo's girlfriend Lucy.