Anthony Hopkins has played several dynamic real-life people over his nearly six-decade acting career, like President Richard Nixon, Alfred Hitchcock, and writer C.S. Lewis. But “One Life,” set for its world premiere at TIFF this weekend, may be Hopkins’ most heartening role in a biopic yet. The actor stars as Sir Nicholas “Nicky” Winton in a film about how one man saved 669 children from the Nazis in World War II.
“One Life” pivots between two time periods: December 1938, when Winton visits Prague, sees families fleeing from the Nazi occupation, and rouses himself to find a way to save whomever he can; and in 1988, when Winton discovers how heroic his actions were fifty years earlier.
Here’s an official synopsis for “One Life,” courtesy of Warner Bros.:
ONE LIFE tells the true story of Sir Nicholas ‘Nicky’ Winton, a young London broker played by Hopkins, who, in the months leading up to World War II, rescued 669 children from the Nazis. Nicky visited Prague in December 1938 and found families who had fled the rise of the Nazis in Germany and Austria, living in desperate conditions with little or no shelter and food, and under threat of Nazi invasion. He immediately realised it was a race against time. How many children could he and the team rescue before the borders closed?
Fifty years later, it’s 1988 and Nicky lives haunted by the fate of the children he wasn’t able to bring to safety in England; always blaming himself for not doing more. It’s not until a live BBC television show, ‘That’s Life!’, surprises him by introducing him to some surviving children – now adults – that he finally begins to come to terms with the guilt and grief he had carried for five decades.
Along with Hopkins, “One Life” also stars Johnny Flynn, Helena Bonham Carter, Lena Olin, Jonathan Pryce, and Romola Garai. Alex Sharp and Samantha Spiro also star.
James Hawes directs “One Life” from a script by Lucinda Coxon and Nick Drake. The film adapts Barbara Winton‘s book “If It’s Not Impossible…The Life Of Sir Nicholas Winton.” Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Joanna Laurie, and Guy Heeley produce through BBC Film and See-Saw Films. FilmNation Entertainment distributes “One Life.”
After its world premiere in Toronto this weekend, “One Life” also screens at the BFI London Film Festival. The film then hits UK theaters on January 5, 2024; stay tuned on an official date for its American theatrical release. Watch a trailer for “One Life” below.