Rooney Mara will play the Australian girlfriend of Saroo Brierley, an Indian-born Australian who found his birth mother 25 years after they were separated, in Garth Davis’ feature Lion.

Her character, Lucy, was Saroo’s first significant love interest when he began the search for his Indian family, initially using a new technology known as Google Earth.

It’s not a big role so Rooney, who starred in David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Social Network and in Todd Haynes' upcoming drama Carol with Cate Blanchett, must have sparked to the script by Luke Davies, adapted from Brierley’s memoir A Long Way Home.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’s Dev Patel is Saroo. As IF reported last week, David Wenham is playing his adopted father alongside Nicole Kidman as his adopted mother.

Also new to the cast is Divian Ladwa as Saroo's adopted brother Mantosh. After several weeks on location in India, Lion resumes shooting for three weeks later this month in Melbourne and Hobart.

The Indian cast includes Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Priyanka Bose, Tannishtha Chatterjee and Deepti Naval.

See-Saw Films’ Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Angie Fielder are producing. The exec producers are Sunstar Entertainment’s Andrew Fraser, Shahen Mekertichian and Daniel Levin.

Sherman and Canning said: “We are thrilled with the incredible work of our cast and crew in India and look forward to welcoming Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, Dev Patel, David Wenham and Divian Ladwa to the Australian leg of the shoot.”

The Weinstein Co, . which paid $US12 million for worldwide rights excluding Australasia at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, plans to open Lion in late November in the US in the Oscars corridor. Transmission has dated the film for January 7.

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