Sir Anthony Hopkins is seen on set for the first time filming One Life

Sir Anthony Hopkins is seen on set for the first time filming One Life

Sir Anthony Hopkins, 84, is seen on set for the first time as ‘British Schindler’ Nicholas Winton who saved 669 children from the Nazis during World War II for BBC movie One Life

  • The veteran actor, 84, transformed into Nicholas for the day as he donned a brown coat while shooting scenes in Pinner on Tuesday
  • The Silence Of The Lambs actor hopes the film will shine a light on the plight of Ukrainian refugees
  • The production is inspired by the true story of Nicholas – a London stockbroker who devised an elaborate plan to rescue hundreds of children in Czechoslovakia from invading Nazis
  • Nicholas, who received the Pride of Britain Award for Lifetime Achievement and has fundraised more than £1 million throughout his life, died in 2015 at the age of 106
  • No release date has been set yet  

Sir Anthony Hopkins was spotted on set for the first time filming new Holocaust movie One Life in Pinner on Tuesday. 

The veteran actor, 84, will play Sir Nicholas Winton, nicknamed the ‘British Schindler’ for saving 669 children in Czechoslovakia from the Nazis in 1939 during World War II.

He transformed into Nicholas for the day as he donned a brown coat, a beige shirt and trousers while shooting scenes. 

Anthony, who is keen to highlight the refugee crisis in Ukraine with the new film, completed the look with a pair of brown leather gloves, a tie and glasses.

He could be seen walking around Pinner, which was transformed into 1988 for the day, alongside actress Lena Olin – who will be playing Nicholas’s wife Grete. 


Filming: Sir Anthony Hopkins (left) was spotted on set for the first time olfilming new movie One Life in Pinner on Tuesday as he takes on the role of hero Sir Nicholas Winton (right) 

One Life, which is being made by BBC Films along with See-Saw Films, will recreate the memorable scenes when Esther Rantzen reunited the Nicholas with some of the refugees whose lives he saved in tearful scenes during a 1988 episode of That’s Life. 

Nicholas was clueless that the audience was made up of the children or grandchildren of the people he saved, who were mostly Jewish children.

Actor Johnny Flynn, who played David Bowie in Stardust, will play the younger Winton, who was 29 in 1938.

Meanwhile, Helena Bonham Carter will play Winton’s mother Babi Winton, who was of German-Jewish ancestry but had settled in North West London with her husband. 

Character: The veteran actor, 84, transformed into Nicholas for the day as he donned a brown coat, a beige shirt and trousers while shooting scenes


Dapper: Anthony, who is keen to highlight the refugee crisis in Ukraine with the new film, completed the look with a pair of brown leather gloves, a tie and glasses

Who was Sir Nicholas Winton? 

Pictured:  Sir Nicholas Winton receiving the Order of White Lion in Prague in 2014

Dubbed ‘Britain’s Schindler’ for his heroic efforts, Sir Nicholas Winton almost single-handedly saved more than 650 children from death in Nazi concentration camps.

Battling bureaucracy at both ends, Winton arranged trains to carry the children from Nazi-occupied Prague to Britain.

He then kept quiet about his exploits for a half-century – the secret of his selfless efforts undiscovered until 1988 when wife Grete found an old briefcase in the attic containing a scrapbook and in it lists of the children, their parents’ names and the families who gave them a home.

Born in London in 1909 to parents of German Jewish descent, Winton himself was raised as a Christian.

He was a 29-year-old clerk at the London Stock Exchange when a friend contacted him and told him to cancel the skiing holiday they had planned in late 1938 and travel instead to Czechoslovakia.

Horrified by the treatment of the Jews under the Nazi occupation, he set about organising eight evacuations of the threatened children on the Czech Kindertransport train.

He advertised in newspapers for foster homes, organised residency permits from the immigration office in the UK, and persuaded the Germans to let the children go.

Through the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia (BCRC) he worked around the clock to find British families willing to put up the then large sum of £50 and agree to look after the children until they were 17.

In the months before the outbreak of World War II, eight trains carried children through Germany to Britain.

In all, Winton got 669 children out.

It was Sir Nicholas’s greatest regret that a final train of 250 children, due to depart at the start of September 1939, was prevented from leaving when Poland was invaded. All are believed to have died along with 1.1 million of the Czech Jews at Auschwitz.

Although many more children were saved from Berlin and Vienna, Winton worked almost alone.

 

Nicholas, who was a stockbroker when he arrived in Prague in December 1938, was planning to go skiing in Switzerland, but changed his plans when he heard about the refugee crisis in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia.

In the following nine months, he organised eight trains that carried children from Czechoslovakia to safety in Britain.

Nicholas and his wife Grete married in her hometown of Vejle in October 1948. She passed away in 1999. 

In 2003, Nicholas received the Pride of Britain Award for Lifetime Achievement and has fundraised more than £1 million throughout his life.

While accepting the award, Nicholas humbly said: ‘To perform an act of goodness you have to be given the opportunity – and luckily I was.’ 

He died in 2015 at the age of 106.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=r9VhKjexnCQ%3Frel%3D0%26showinfo%3D1%26hl%3Den-US

Cast: He could be seen walking around Pinner, which was transformed into 1988 for the day, alongside actress Lena Olin, who will be playing Nicholas’s wife Grete – Nicholas and Grete pictured right

Filming: Anthony was escorted around the set by a crew member in between scenes 

Plot: One Life, which is being made by BBC Films along with See-Saw Films, will recreate the memorable scenes when Esther Rantzen reunited the Nicholas with some of the refugees whose lives he saved in tearful scenes during a 1988 episode of That’s Life

Sweet: Nicholas was clueless that he audience was also made up of the children or grandchildren of the people he saved, who were mostly Jewish children

It is believed Sir Anthony, who is best known for his Oscar-winning portrayal of serial killer Hannibal Lecter in The Silence Of The Lambs, will be the oldest British actor to take a lead role in a major film.

The production team has been impressed by the actor’s support for the project. ‘Everyone is astounded that Anthony is taking the role,’ said a source. 

‘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.’

Incredible story: Nicholas, who was a stockbroker when he arrived in Prague in December 1938, was planning to go skiing in Switzerland, but changed his plans when he heard about the refugee crisis in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia

Charity work: In 2003, Nicholas received the Pride of Britain Award for Lifetime Achievement and has fundraised more than £1 million throughout his life

Legend: It is believed Sir Anthony, who is best known for his Oscar-winning portrayal of serial killer Hannibal Lecter in The Silence Of The Lambs, will be the oldest British actor to take a lead role in a major film


Actor: The production team has been impressed by the actor’s support for the project. ‘Everyone is astounded that Anthony is taking the role,’ said a source (Anthony pictured R in March)

Anthony was first in discussions about the role over two years ago but when the pandemic arrived most of us thought we had lost the prospect of casting him as Sir Nicholas.

‘To put it politely, he is getting on in years. We feared that when, or if, the film ever got made, we would have to respect that, at 84, Anthony might not want the stress and strain of a lead role in his life.

‘We are all amazed and delighted that Anthony is going to be taking part, playing the lead character.’

The insider continued: ‘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.’

Cast: Anthony was first in discussions about the role over two years ago but when the pandemic arrived most of us thought we had lost the prospect of casting him as Sir Nicholas

The title is paraphrased from the Jewish Talmud: ‘Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.’

Nicholas’ story recently went viral when a YouTube clip revealed an episode of the BBC’s That’s Life from 1988, when Esther Rantzen hosted a special edition featuring him. 

During the broadcast the television presenter, 82, asked, ‘Is there anyone in our audience who owed their life to Nicholas Winton? If so, could you stand up please?’ 

Everyone in the studio audience stood and the episode has been viewed on You Tube many millions of times. 

Jonathan Pryce, Romola Garai, and Alex Sharp are also set to star in the drama, but no release date has yet been announced.

Throwback: Nicholas with one of the children he rescued from Czechoslovakia before the Second World War

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