The Oscar winner initially sent a friend to interview Sue, because she didn't want a meeting to get in the way of her performance, but when the two Australians eventually met, there was an instant connection.

Nicole admits Sue, who she portrayed in the film adaptation of her adopted son's book, is a very special person, who always makes her feel great.

"She flew to Sydney and we sat in my apartment and just talked and talked," she tells the New York Times with a smile. "It rarely happens when you meet somebody that you're gonna play and also just go, 'I love you'.

"She's very tactile and affectionate and I respond well to being touched so she would stroke my hand after just meeting me. She said, 'I've wanted you to play me'. We just shared and she's now a huge part of my life and I'm never letting her leave my life. She's filled a part of my life as she's this person who's incredibly non-judgmental and warm and genuine... I'll take it!"

Brierley visited Nicole on the set of Lion just to make sure she was OK.

"I was very caring and protective because I was worried about the trauma," Sue told the Daily Mail. "There's a lot of trauma."

And she admits no one knew how tough the movie was for Nicole, who is also an adoptive mother - not even her husband Keith Urban, who was deeply touched by the film.

"Keith is standing there (at the premiere) with tears running down his face and he just said, 'Oh babe, I didn't know this was so tough for you,'" Brierley explained.