Romola Garai Discusses Incredible Heroism of ‘One Life’

Romola Garai Discusses Incredible Heroism of ‘One Life’ March 21, 2024

Actress Romola Garai’s recent portrayal of the real-life Doreen Warriner, a key character in the film “One Life,” encapsulates this theme of heroism with profound authenticity and reverence. The actress, who previously appeared in “Emma” and “The Last Days on Mars,” was drawn into the heroic story, which also stars Anthony Hopkins, Helena Bonham Carter, and Johnny Flynn.

Romola Garai as Doreen Warriner and Johnny Flynn as Nicholas Winton in ‘One Life.’ Image courtesy of Bleecker Street.

Garai’s journey into the role began with a script that stirred her emotions. Recalling the moment she first encountered the story, Garai reflects, “I was sent the script…and I cried and cried when I was reading the script.” Her visceral reaction speaks volumes about the profound impact of the narrative. “It was a very unusual and exceptional screenplay,” she adds, emphasizing the purity of emotion that resonated deeply within her.

Through the film, Doreen emerges as a character who undergoes a remarkable transformation, evolving from skepticism to unwavering commitment in the face of daunting challenges. Garai paints a vivid portrait of Doreen as a woman burdened with the weight of responsibility, akin to many who find themselves thrust into roles of unexpected leadership.

“We all recognize that thing of just a very overwhelmed woman,” Garai remarks, highlighting Doreen’s initial apprehension towards Nicholas Winton’s audacious plan.

Yet, Doreen’s journey is one of profound growth and selflessness. As Winton, portrayed as a stockbroker, initiates his plan to rescue children from the looming threat of war, Doreen’s skepticism gives way to courage and conviction. Garai elucidates, “She adapted to that…allowed herself to be tucked into a mission that she…genuinely thought would not succeed.” Despite her doubts, Doreen’s unwavering determination, coupled with her self-sacrificing nature, propels her towards remarkable achievements.

In embodying the role of Doreen, Garai felt a profound sense of responsibility towards honoring the real-life heroism of her character. “I always feel that when I’m playing a real person, I think you have a tremendous duty of care as an actor to that real person,” she affirms. Garai’s dedication to authenticity is palpable as she delves into the nuances of Doreen’s character, striving to depict her with integrity and respect.

Drawing from her extensive research, Garai speaks about Doreen’s remarkable life, uncovering a tapestry of extraordinary achievements.

“She achieved so much in her life,” Garai reflects, marveling at Doreen’s groundbreaking accomplishments as a pioneering economist and humanitarian. Despite the challenges she faced, Doreen’s indomitable spirit and unwavering resolve shine through, leaving an indelible mark on history.

As Garai navigates the complexities of portraying Doreen on screen, she remains committed to capturing the essence of her character with nuance and authenticity. “I always try and depict people as they would want to be depicted without…making things up,” she asserts. Through her nuanced portrayal, Garai pays tribute to Doreen’s legacy of heroism, ensuring that her remarkable story is preserved for generations to come.

In “One Life,” Garai stands with Hopkins, Flynn, and Bonham Carter to bring to life a story that defied the odds and inspired hope in the darkest of times. Through her performance, Garai honors Doreen’s legacy of heroism, reminding viewers of the power of resilience, compassion, and unwavering determination in the face of adversity.

“One Life,” directed by James Hawes, is currently in theaters.

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