The true story of Nancy 'White Mouse' Wake inspired Sebastian Faulks' 1999 novel Charlotte Gray upon which the film is based. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Mrs Wake was "a truly remarkable individual whose selfless valour and tenacity will never be forgotten". Born in New Zealand but raised in Australia, she is credited with helping hundreds of Allied personnel escape from occupied France. Working as a journalist in Europe, she interviewed Adolf Hitler in Vienna in 1933 and then vowed to fight against his persecution of Jews. After the fall of France in 1940, Mrs Wake became a French Resistance courier and later a saboteur and spy - setting up escape routes and sabotaging German installations, saving hundreds of Allied lives. She worked for British Special Operations and was parachuted into France in April 1944 before D-Day to deliver weapons to French Resistance fighters. At one point, she was top of the Gestapo's most wanted list. "Freedom is the only thing worth living for. While I was doing that work, I used to think it didn't matter if I died, because without freedom there was no point in living," Ms Wake once said of her wartime exploits. It was only after the liberation of France that she learned her husband, French businessman Henri Fiocca, had been tortured and killed by the Gestapo for refusing to give her up. She was Australia's most decorated servicewoman, and one of the most decorated Allied servicewomen of World War II. France awarded her its highest honour, the Legion D'Honneur; she also received Britain's George Medal, and the US Medal of Freedom. In 2004, she was made Companion of the Order of Australia. She died in London on August 8, 2011 aged 98.
The agreement for the crew to film in Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, France was that they must allow the local residents to be filmed as extras. Because of this, most of the citizens seen in the Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val shots are real citizens of the town.
The schoolteacher played by Anton Lesser was called "Benech" in the novel, but the small French town in which much of the movie was based had a popular mayor whose name was similar, so officials asked that the name be changed. He's called "Renech" in the final version.