Anthony Hopkins to play ‘British Schindler’ in new biopic
Sir Anthony Hopkins is taking the lead role in a new movie telling the story of Sir Nicholas Winton, nicknamed the ‘British Schindler’ for saving almost 700 children from the Nazis before the start of the Second World War.
Discussions around Hopkins’ involvement in the film One Life began two years ago but the pandemic stalled plans for filming which will now take place in both Prague and the UK from the end of April.
The leading role will be played Sir Anthony Hopkins and Johnny Flynn, portraying Winton at different stages of his life, although in his role as the older Winton, Hopkins may not shoot many scenes in the Czech Republic.
Margam born Hopkins, 84, best known for his Oscar-winning portrayal of serial killer Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of The Lambs, became the oldest to win a Best Actor Oscar, when his role as a dementia sufferer in The Father was recognised in 2021.
Celebrated as “the British Schindler”, Winton was a 29-year-old stockbroker when he arrived in Prague in December 1938. He went on to rescue 669 children, most of them Jewish, from Czechoslovakia on the eve of WWII by arranging their transport from Prague to Britain and helping to 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. Winton travelled 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.
His story has since been recounted in the Oscar-winning documentary Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport, 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.
It 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.
During the Toronto International Film Festival last year See-Saw Films’ managing directors Iain Canning and Emile Sherman said: “Despite never wanting any attention for his altruistic act, Nicky’s story and the story of those he saved must be told.
“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.”
According to the Daily Mail a source from the project said: “The production team has been impressed by the actor’s support for the project.
“He was so determined to do it because he wants to raise the issue of refugees after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which gives the film’s storyline more relevance than ever.”
A statue of Nicholas Winton, who died in 2015 at the age of 106, was designed by Flor Kent and erected at Prague’s main train station in 2009.
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