Thanks to John Madden’s timely drama Miss Sloane, Jessica Chastain will soon find herself in the midst of awards season – not for the first time, mind you – but the esteemed actress has many more exciting projects lining her slate beyond Washington’s corridors of power.
The Zookeeper’s Wife, for instance, is Niki Caro’s upcoming wartime drama that places Chastain in the role of Antonina Żabińska. Set just prior to Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939, Caro’s period piece is actually an adaptation of Diane Ackerman’s non-fiction novel, which recounts the remarkable true story of Antonina and her husband Dr. Jan Żabiński (Johan Heldenbergh), who saved countless human and animal lives during WWII by hiding them in animal cages peppered across the Warsaw Zoo
Also starring Michael McElhatton, Johan Heldenbergh and Captain America: Civil War star Daniel Brühl, we understand that War Bride scribe Angela Workman penned the screenplay for The Zookeeper’s Wife, and you can find the synopsis pulled from Ackerman’s book, below.
The Zookeeper’s Wife is a strange, but historically true story of WWII. It reveals the extraordinary efforts of Jan and Antonina Zabinski, Christian zookeepers horrified by Nazi racism, who capitalized on the Nazis’ obsession with pureblood animals in order to save over 300 doomed people by hiding them in the bombed-out cages at the Warsaw Zoo. A tale of people, animals, and subversive acts of compassion.
After their zoo was bombed, Polish zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski managed to save over three hundred people from the Nazis by hiding refugees in the empty animal cages. With animal names for these “guests,” and human names for the animals, it’s no wonder that the zoo’s code name became “The House Under a Crazy Star.” Best-selling naturalist and acclaimed storyteller Diane Ackerman combines extensive research and an exuberant writing style to re-create this fascinating, true-life story — sharing Antonina’s life as “the zookeeper’s wife,” while examining the disturbing obsessions at the core of Nazism.
Focus Features will bring The Zookeeper’s Wife into theaters on March 31, 2017. Next up for Jessica Chastain is the starring role in Miss Sloane, which is poised to jostle for a place in the awards race come November 25.