A new biopic about the life of Holocaust hero Nicholas Winton is slated to shoot in Prague this spring, and packs some star power in the leading role. Sir Anthony Hopkins and Johnny Flynn will portray Winton at different stages of his life.
One Life will be directed by Aisling Walsh (Elizabeth Is Missing) from a screenplay by Lucinda Coxon (The Danish Girl) and Nick Drake. BBC Films and See-Saw Films are producing.
Celebrated as “the British Schindler”, banker and humanitarian Nicholas Winton helped rescue 669 children, most of them Jewish, from Czechoslovakia on the eve of WWII. He arranged their transport from Prague to Britain and helped find them new homes.
Never seeking public recognition, Winton’s efforts went largely unnoticed until he was reunited with some of the children he helped rescue, now adult, on a BBC TV program some 50 years later.
His story has since been recounted in the Oscar-winning documentary Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport (in part), in the Czech documentaries The Power of Good and Nicky’s Family, and the Czech-Slovak narrative feature All My Loved Ones, which starred Rupert Graves as Winton.
One Life will be the first English-language production to focus on Winton and his rescue of children from Czechoslovakia on the eve of WWII.
Starring as the older Winton, Anthony Hopkins won an Oscar for his portrayal of Hannibal Lector in The Silence of the Lambs and has since been nominated four times, for The Remains of the Day, Nixon, Amistad, and The Two Popes. Hopkins’ work in last year’s The Father is largely expected to earn him another nomination.
As the younger Winton, Johnny Flynn first rose to fame as a musician before portraying David Bowie in the unofficial biopic Stardust and starring opposite Anna Taylor-Joy in Emma. last year.
One Life is slated to begin production in both Prague and UK locations from April, with the Czech capital presumably playing itself and potentially standing in for other WWII-era locales. Casting director Nina Gold is reportedly casting for the project now.
Given his role as the older Winton, Hopkins may not shoot many scenes in the Czech Republic, though Winton traveled to Prague multiple times after the fall of the Iron Curtain, and met with some of the children he saved as well as then-president Václav Havel.
“Despite never wanting any attention for his altruistic act, Nicky’s story and the story of those he saved must be told,” See-Saw Films’ managing directors Iain Canning and Emile Sherman said during international sales at the Toronto International Film Festival last year.
“To be a part of sharing this moment in history with the world is an extraordinary privilege. Anthony and Johnny are without a doubt the right people to bring Lucinda and Nick’s beautifully crafted screenplay about this amazing man to life.”
A statue of Nicholas Winton designed by Flor Kent was erected at Prague’s main train station in 2009. Winton passed away at the age of 106 in 2015.
Lead photo: Hopkins in Westworld / Winton in Prague in 2007 via Wikimedia / Li-sung