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5 minutes with Philomena Lee and her daughter Jane Libberton, talk about their search for Philomena’s son Anthony, the truth behind Steve Coogan’s movie, and why the story touched a chord with so many.

28/02/2014 PA File Photo of Philomena Lee (left) and Jane Libberton attending the GREAT British Film Reception at the British Consul's residence in Los Angeles, USA. See PA Feature SHOWBIZ 5Mins2. Picture credit should read: Ian West/PA Photos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature SHOWBIZ 5Mins2.

28/02/2014 PA File Photo of Philomena Lee (left) and Jane Libberton attending the GREAT British Film Reception at the British Consul's residence in Los Angeles, USA. See PA Feature SHOWBIZ 5Mins2. Picture credit should read: Ian West/PA Photos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature SHOWBIZ 5Mins2.

What was your response when you saw the film?

Philomena: Jane, my son and myself, we just didn’t know what to think of it. Then we saw it a second time and we just wanted to know what other people thought about it, because we had our own ideas about it. Then the third time, we just took it on board and thought it was great.

Jane: Quite honestly, the first time we saw it we actually didn’t know if it was any good or not. It was very, very hard for us to judge. We were on set several times and obviously it’s got dramatic license in it, so it isn’t exactly the way it happened.

The early scenes in the convent and the laundry scenes were pretty accurate in terms of how mum described it to Steve (Coogan) and (co-writer) Jeff (Pope), but some of the other bits were: “Well, that didn’t happen like that.” It was the third time, I think, that we realised they had done a really good job of telling the story.

You must have been proud at how much Anthony achieved

Philomena: Oh yes, I couldn’t believe it, because all through my life, having kept it a secret for 50 years... it was only my brother who knew. To me he was the most gorgeous, lovely little boy; I raised him for three-and-a half-years, and I prayed night and day that he’d be safe. Once I told my daughter, Jane, she started looking for him; she found him before Martin (Sixsmith) did actually. She found all the American side and told his life story and found his partner, which gave us such a lot of information.

He had a very good life, and was adopted by a very good family, so I’m happy about that. I still continue to pray for the people that adopted him and who gave him such a good life and good education.

How did you feel about attending the Oscars?

Philomena: It was so exciting. I’ve never experienced anything like that in my whole life. We made the most of it and met some wonderful people while we were out there.

Jane: It was a great experience. Everybody wants to go to the Oscars, don’t they? And the show was very entertaining, more so than we thought it was going to be.

Philomena, you were reluctant to have Martin Sixsmith’s book ‘The Lost Child of Philomena Lee’ published at one point. What changed your mind?

I suppose I was putting the burden on Jane’s shoulders to try and find him (Anthony) without my secret coming out. But of course, then we changed our minds and thought, “Maybe if it only helps another half-a-dozen people”.

 

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