Happy news! Lion actor Sunny Pawar was granted permission to enter the U.S. to attend the premiere of the film. After Harvey Weinstein and the Weinstein Company appealed to the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Pawar officially began his tour of New York — and he’s having a great time so far.
The child actor, 8, reunited with his costars, including Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman, at the NYC premiere of the film, in which he plays a younger version of Patel’s character Saroo, on Wednesday, November 16. There he met former President Bill Clinton, who made a surprise appearance at the event.
Unfortunately, the permission was not granted in time for Pawar to attend the AFI Festival premiere in L.A., but he made it to the Governors Awards on Sunday, November 13, before flying to New York.
Pawar was previously denied the visa and did not attend the film’s premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in September. “We are doing everything we can to fight this; we believe it must be the effect of immigration paranoia,” David Glasser, Weinstein Company’s president, said. “He, of course, poses absolutely no threat to anyone. We want him to be a part of the celebration of this film and his performance.” It was unclear when Pawar applied for the visa.
Accompanied by his father, Dilip Pawar, Sunny has been able to explore New York, visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. “I never dreamt that something like this, what we are witnessing, could be possible,” Dilip said. “But once the visas came through, it was one of the happiest moments in our life, that my son could witness such a great country with great hospitality.”
“America is lots of fun,” Sunny added. “My favorite was going to the Statue of Liberty.”
The Weinstein Company’s film is about an Indian boy named Saroo who is separated from his family as a child and is adopted by a couple living in Australia. Once grown up, Saroo attempts to find a way home by using Google Earth.
Lion hits theaters on Friday, November 25.