After the death of his financially replete father (Andrew Havill), Nicholas Nickleby (Charlie Hunnam) and his family travel to London to seek assistance from his father's older brother Ralph (Christopher Plummer). Taking an immediate dislike to his nephew, Ralph employs Nicholas under the sadistic Mr. Wackford Squeers Jim Broadbent) and his interminable wife (Juliet Stevenson), owners of a boys' school in northern England. In the meantime, Ralph seeks to use Nicholas' beautiful sister Kate (Romola Garai) as a ploy to influence his investors. Discourse forces Nicholas to flee the school with the crippled Smike (Jamie Bell), an orphan with no memories of his former life before he was brought to Dotheboys' Hall. On their journey back to London they meet up with Vincent Crummles (Nathan Lane) and his acting troupe, befriend Ralph's good-hearted secretary Newman Noggs (Sir Tom Courtenay), and ultimately rise over adversity.