Production on the Nicholas Winton biopic One Life is finally ramping up two years after being announced, with the project aiming to shoot in the United Kingdom and Czech Republic this autumn. A start date for Prague production on One Life has not been revealed, but filming could begin within the coming weeks or months; UK casting notices pegged a shoot running from August through October.
One Life was announced in 2020, with Anthony Hopkins cast as Sir Nicholas Winton, the Holocaust hero who helped rescue 669 children (most of them Jewish) from Czechoslovakia on the eve of WWII. A banker and humanitarian, Winton secured transport for the children from Prague to Britain and helped find them new homes.
Johnny Flynn (who played David Bowie in Stardust and Ian Fleming in Operation Mincemeat) will star as the younger Winton during the WWII-era scenes, with Hopkins starring as the Winton in his later years.
This week, Deadline revealed that Helena Bonham Carter had joined the cast of One Life, starring alongside Flynn as Winton’s mother Babi Winton, who was originally of Jewish-German ancestry before settling in London.
Lena Olin has also been cast in One Life alongside Hopkins as Grete Winton, Winton’s wife who found a scrapbook of her husband’s wartime activities in the 1980s. Winton had never sought recognition for his humanitarian work, which went largely unnoticed until his wife’s efforts reunited him with many of the people he had helped save on the BBC TV program That’s Life 50 years after the war.
Olin memorably starred opposite Daniel Day-Lewis in director Philip Kaufman’s adaptation of Czech writer Milan Kundera’s Prague Spring novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being. She also appears in the second season of Amazon’s Hunters, which shot in Prague last year.
Jonathan Pryce (who earned his first Oscar nomination starring alongside Hopkins in The Two Popes), Romola Garai (Atonement, Suffragette), and Alex Sharp (How to Talk to Girls at Parties, The Trial of the Chicago 7), have also joined the cast of One Life as key members of the operation led by Winton to get the children out of Prague.
Prague could potentially play itself as well as WWII-era London in the movie. Hopkins and Olin may not do much shooting on Czech locations, though the elder Winton did visit the Czech capital multiple times after the fall of the Iron Curtain, and met with President Václav Havel as well as children he saved who returned to the country after the war.
A memorial statue to Winton now stands at Prague’s Main Train Station, which is where the children he helped save departed Czechoslovakia from.
While One Life was announced two years ago with Aisling Walsh (Elizabeth Is Missing) attached to direct, the project now has a new filmmaker behind the camera: James Hawes, who has directed for TV series such as Black Mirror, Raised by Wolves, Snowpiercer, and The Alienist, and will make his feature debut with One Life. Hawes most recently directed Gary Oldman in the acclaimed Apple TV+ miniseries Slow Horses.
One Life is based on the book If It’s Not Impossible…The Life of Sir Nicholas Winton, which was written by Winton’s daughter Barbara Winton. The screenplay has been adapted by Lucinda Coxon (The Danish Girl) and Nick Drake (Romulus, My Father).
Winton’s story has been previously recounted in the Oscar-winning documentary Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport as well as Slovak filmmaker Matej Mináč’s documentaries The Power of Good and Nicky’s Family, and his narrative feature All My Loved Ones, in which Rupert Graves starred as Winton.
The title of the new movie, One Life, comes from a line in the Talmud: “Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.”
Pictured at top: Helena Bonham Carter in The Crown, Anthony Hopkins in The Father, Lena Olin in Hunters, and Jonathan Pryce in Games of Thrones.